This project was one epic failure after another. I almost gave up. Several times. But persistence paid off and we now have a ladybug hotel in our garden. It’s made with 100% sustainable and organic materials and it turned out to be pretty stinkin cute. Even with all of the frustration and failures. I’ll give you the behind the scenes of the ladybug hotel that almost didn’t make it.
We’ve been using ladybugs as an all-natural way to eliminate aphids in our Victory Garden. It’s super simple – make sure the ground is wet, and release the ladybugs at night so they don’t fly away. They come in a container of 300, you can keep them in the fridge and I like to release them in small amounts over 1-2 weeks every several days. But what happens when they eat all of the aphids? I didn’t want them to fly away forever, so I wanted to make a hotel for my ladybug friends.
I wanted to use 100% sustainable and organic materials and not have to purchase anything. I started with a cutie crate – you know – the crates that come with the cutie clementines. They have a million and one repurposes!
I sent a note out to our neighborhood newsfeed for bamboo and one of our near neighbor friends a few houses down said, “come to our yard and take as much as you want!” So I grabbed Stepson and the two of us walked over and cut down some bamboo branches to bring back.
I cut them with a lopper at the joints. Lesson Learned #1 – don’t cut them with a lopper in the middle or they will crack and break. More on that later.
I thought we could use the leaves from the bamboo to fill in the gaps. The initial thought was to put the leaves through the holes and fill in with the bamboo, but that left it too unstable. Lesson Learned #2.
Well, when we cut the bamboo, there was not nearly enough. So in the meantime, I went ahead and painted the crate with Annie Sloan’s chalk paint and gave it three coats. Lesson Learned #3.
I then took a round sponge brush thingy and made the ladybug spots.
Ok, so while that was drying, I checked in with my neighbors and made a second trip to their house. This time by myself since Stepson wasn’t around. I cut down some more bamboo and dragged it back home. I must have been a sight… I stuck the lopper in the back of my pants and was walking down the street literally dragging the bamboo. Did I mention it was 95 degrees outside?
Back to more lopping off the branches and cutting the stalks at the joints. (PS – I’m beat at this point!)
Hubby came to my rescue and helped me out by cutting the already small bamboo pieces in half with a hacksaw. He was able to double the amount of bamboo and the hacksaw cut through easily without breaking any pieces.
I quickly learned Lesson Learned #4 – the bamboo doesn’t stay on its own. Grrr…. so I’m scratching my head and thought to try Mod Podge to “paint” over each layer of bamboo. Surprisingly, that worked!
And after all of that… this is how much of the container the bamboo filled up. Can you sense my frustration? At this point, I was done. It’s hot. I’m tired. I’ve been working on this simple project for several days. I didn’t have anything left in me to go back and repeat the process all over again. So I used a little ingenuity and did the best that I could. I was so freakin done with this project at this point. These ladybugs better be grateful! Can I have some solidarity?
And then of course I remembered that I wanted to give the hotel a name so I grabbed a sharpie and wrote “Hotel & Spa.” Did I mention it’s hot and I’m tired and frustrated?
I took the scraps of branches and filled them in the holes of the container and basically stuffed as much on top as I could. It made it look like it wasn’t a failed project, and the birds can use the material for their nests. Yeah… this was on purpose!
So allegedly the ladybugs will cozy up into the holes of the bamboo and stay in our garden and not fly off. I’m not opposed to bribery at this point to get them to stick around.
So there you have it. The cutest stinkin ladybug hotel. Phew!
It is fun to watch these little ladybugs go to town. Eat those aphids little guy! Or girl. Or lady. Oh whatever! You go do your thing and I’m off to take a nap! I deserve it!
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What about you? How do you control aphids or other pests in your garden?
Love, hugs, and waltzing through the flower bed.HERE.