My Little Ladybug Farm

     Living out in the country has it's natural charm.. and it is one which needs to be welcomed or else you won't be okay with it. There's no shortage of wildlife and insects, which I've had some issues with inside the home (it seems no matter how often we bring in someone to "pest-proof" the house, there's always a way for something to find their way in!). One thing that quickly became apparent to me was the ongoing sight of ladybugs - whom find their way into the house in winter. After inquiring on this I found out that we don't have nearly enough sightings to entertain it as an infestation, and since they're yet another integral part of the ecosystem (especially for our gardens & nearby farms), I wondered how I could help these little bugs.

    I'm still not sure if it's boredom, my ingrained care for nature, or a mixture... but I wanted to do something to get these ladybugs to last until the warm weather hit. And believe it or not, it is super easy! I would often relocate them and give them some water, but inevitably they'd hang out somewhere inaccessible, get burnt by a lightbulb, or be squashed in the wake of my dog being playful. So my husband decided to one day order me a "bug catching kit". I don't know whether he intended it as a joke or if he just knew I was going to use it, but it only took me minutes to get this ready and begin collecting ladybugs within it.

    The kit itself is literally just one of those plastic houses that's honestly marketed for children. But after doing some quick research online, I found I'm not the only adult doing this and I already had all that was needed for them in my kitchen. Ladybugs are sneaky little ones so I quickly learned I needed to "board up" spaces they could squeeze through to escape, but otherwise you just need to check on them a few times a day to replenish their water supply. If you're curious how to do this for yourself (or your kids!), read on to find out more about my set up...

This may not look like much, but this house had 9 ladybugs in it after just 1 week of being set up.
They all lived in here for weeks; until Spring!

    Firstly, I've lined the bottom with a folded paper towel because the plastic base is too unnatural for them. At least on paper towel, they're protected from standing water and I'm sure it's more comfortable for resting. In time, I would notice that the ladybugs would crawl into the little crevices of the folds to claim their own space -- some ladybugs ended up mating, but many would almost fight each other when too close; proving they aren't all going to get along and do need space. I grabbed a broken twig from the garden to place within so they could crawl on that, but I also use it to supply them with water because paper towel dries up quicker. You CAN give them water on paper towel, but it's only a "one meal" type of solution... so using both a twig/branch and another small shred of paper towel to plop this on is better. And even though the water absorbs right into your paper towel, they're still able to drink from it. Just use some kind of brushing tool or anything that makes controlling the water droplets more precise and slow.

    More than twice now, I've come out in the morning to find a ladybug floating in the water glass I use for them; having escaped at night and wandered into it. I was sure they were dead but I fished them out, placed them right side up on the paper towel in the house, and within a couple of hours it was as if it never happened!! So if you do see this, don't assume it's dead yet! Even though they were upside down in the water and had their wings & legs all buckled out as if they were dead, they ended up getting up and walking again. I have a funny theory that they're just all drunk on, and passed out in, the sugar water.. but whatever the explanation is, it's been an interesting event to witness.

    Regular water is fine, but adding sugar to it is better for them. I've also tried putting in little moist pieces of strawberry and raisins, which they do nibble at, but they flock to the water when it's available which is why I'm saying it's more important. Unless you can get something secure enough that they won't escape, you'll have to do a daily check on if any have escaped to your window, ceiling, or light fixture. Sometimes they just needed to fly around in a bigger space, so unless it's time to relocate it outdoors, you'll have to get it and put it back in the house. I use the little moist piece of paper towel (from the house) to lure them onto so I can transport them back, if they aren't up for being handled..

Most ladybugs are receptive to being handled!
Many began to trust me enough to walk onto my fingers when I needed to retrieve them after escaping.
It IS a bittersweet moment holding my hand outside like this, then waiting for it to fly off...

    In time, they're released as the weather's finally hit that 20 degrees-ish (celsius) mark and the winter cold is sure to have moved on for the season. At this point, I let them out one by one if they escape their house, or I move their house out to my garden and just leave it there with the door open until they've moved on. Every once in a while, a new ladybug can be found somewhere in the house, so I maintain their home knowing there's always a chance I'll need to put one in there for a bit. This slows down once it's warm - and tends to be when it's a chilly and/or rainy day where they just need a temporary retreat! Whether you're bored or just want to do something helpful like this for Mother Nature, consider how easy this is and how you can give back to them at the end. :)

#ladybugfarm #diybugcaring #caringfornature #ruraladventures #empathconfessions

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