Courtesy MeThis past Sunday I released 1500 ladybugs in my backyard with my wife and daughter. It was awesome. I had gone to the local garden center to get some more praying mantis egg cases as I was pretty sure the ones I had put out earlier this spring had died as we had a couple of very late frosts. But, while I was in there they had this bag of ladybugs, and what can I say? They are cool bugs – I couldn’t resist.
Ladybugs are helpful because they eat other insects that are damaging to gardens or crops. In fact, the Mall of America here locally releases thousands of ladybugs in the amusement park to control insect pests. Don’t confuse them with Asian Beetles – ladybugs are a native insect.
The praying mantis is not native to Minnesota, but they are okay to release as they won’t survive the winter. I put out three egg cases earlier this spring with no luck almost two months later, so I bought two more cases as I am reasonably sure it won’t get below freezing again for some time. They are also beneficial as they eat other bugs (but interestingly, not ladybugs). Each egg case could release up to 200 mantises…the potential is there for 1000 mantises. Sweet.
My neighbors are viewing my releases a little skeptically, but I can’t wait to see the mantises and to show them to my daughter, who is not squeamish at all with bugs. She was quite helpful with the ladybugs and thought the whole thing to be quite fun, even when they were crawling all over her arms.
If you are interested in releasing ladybugs or praying mantises in your backyard, there are lots of internet sites that sell them, but also be sure to check your local garden center too.