What kid doesn't love bugs? Butterflies, caterpillars, rollie pollies and lady bugs are some of the most treasured critters in the garden. I even know a child who has a deep love and respect for spiders. Of course not every child loves bugs yet many do and lady bugs are among the most enchanting of bugs and are very approachable for most kids.
Recently I brought in a big bag of lady bugs to play with at the preschool. (I purchased them at our local flower nursery.) Before we let the lady's go in our garden, we started out our lady bug exploration with a book all about the lady bug life cycle, Grub To Lady Bugby Melvin and Gilda Berger.
There are great pictures of lady bugs in different parts of their life cycle in this book including the larval stage when they look nothing like that lady bugs we are used to seeing. The kids really were engaged reading about these familiar little insects. While reading we talked about how many legs a lady bug has and about how lady bugs help our gardens be healthy by eating bugs that harm plants like aphids; aphids who suck all the nice juice out of plants and make them feel bad. At this point one of our littlest girls who is just 3 years old, exclaimed "like the Grouchy Lady Bug!"
~ A Simple Art Project ~
Has you may know from my post about salt dough finger prints, I love to capture the precious cuteness of little fingers, hands and feet. So as part of our lady bug exploration we made lady bug pictures with the children's little red finger prints for the lady bug's body. The kids drew in the details of lady bugs often including six legs and even flowers for the lady bugs to protect.
Here are some wonderful examples of our art work:
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~ Lady Bug Release ~
Finally the big moment came when we released the lady bugs into our garden.
The kids squealed and giggled as lady bugs crawled out of the bag in droves.
They crawled everywhere, up my arm, all over the ground and on our spinach plants.
Super duper buggy fun!
We spent the rest of the morning gently holding lady bugs and watching them find a new home among the plants.
A Cherry Tree In Trouble ~
About a week after the release at school, my daughter and I discovered our cherry tree at home covered in black cherry aphids and we knew just what to do!
Off we went to our local nursery to get some more lady bugs.
We let them go all over the tree and we could see the lady's immediately getting to work chowing down on those aphids.
It has been less that a week and the tree already looks so much better.
Like it's energy is coming back, the leaves are greener and it seems to be standing stronger.
My daughter had a great day playing with the lady bugs and running back over to the tree every now and then to check on their progress.
Have you ever used lady bugs to control pests in your garden? I would love to hear how it went for you.
For More Buggy Fun Check Out ~