Save the litter for the beneficials!

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Last week I was working in my flower beds planting some perennials that a friend had given me.  While digging around planting and pulling weeds I saw a spotted pink lady beetle.  As I continued to work I found several more.  This told me that they really liked all the leaves and plant debris that I let collect in my bed over the last month.





Folks don't get so excited to clean out the flower beds this fall as they are offering a great place for our Good Bugs to hide and over winter.  The spotted pink lady beetle is one of four native species in Ohio.  It's so important to offer these great native beneficial insects places to over winter in our yards because they eat the bad bugs that might be lurking around. 





Lady beetle larvae and adults eat primarily aphids but are also known to eat many other insects such as: soft scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites, eggs of Colorado Potato Beetle and European Corn Borer.  One lady beetle larvae will eat about 400 medium sized aphids during its development to the pupal stage and an adult will eat about 300 medium sized aphids before it lays eggs.  More than 5000 aphids might be eaten by a single adult in its lifetime.





If the lady beetles are hiding out in our flower bed trash for the winter just think about how many other beneficial insects are also hiding out.  So this fall when you get tempted to go out and clean up those ugly flower beds, just remember that you got to enjoy them all summer and now it's time for the beneficial insects to enjoy them.  They don't care if they are pretty or not. 




I don't normally mulch in the fall but this year I put a layer down around the new perennials that I planted to protect them through the winter.  Fall is a great time to plant perennials as the weather is cooler and the moisture is relatively consistent.  I didn't mulch the inside of the bed and I didn't mulch around the mature plants leaving plenty of leaf and plant litter for the beneficial insects to enjoy.