Clover Attracts Ladybugs
Gardening Question from Olivia:
Do you think Lady Bugs are attracted to clover? I am a landscape designer and landscaper. I have a client in Clairemont, California. I just finished her garden. She told me that her garden was overgrown and not taken care of for many years. (She just bought a foreclosure house.) She said the garden has been infested with gross bugs. When I first went there I saw those chubby bugs aaaaalllll over her house walls, fences etc. They were mainly black with some gold on them and had a small head and pointed tail. They also had little spiky shapes on them, like some caterpillars have. I removed some of them but then something told me this is not a good idea and I googled that weird bug and found out it was the Lady Bug’s larvae! I felt so so bad for killing some of them. I know it is hard to keep Lady Bugs in place but that garden had tons of them + the larvae. The whole garden had the tall clover growing everywhere. This is why I thought that this plant had something to do with attracting the Lady Bugs. What do you think?
Answer from Pat:
Yes, lady bugs are hugely attracted to clover.
One year in winter I had no time for growing vegetables, so I planted crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum) as a cover crop on my vegetable garden. The next spring there were so many ladybugs on it that I am afraid some might have been buried when we dug the clover into the ground. This is a perfect example of why gardeners should plant pollen-bearing plants to attract beneficials.
The correct way to use crimson clover as a cover crop is to plant it in fall and dig it under the ground after it blooms in spring. This will hugely improve the soil, but planting a few seeds of this pretty plant amongst your wildflowers is also a good idea. While traveling in England I have often seen a clump or two of crimson clover growing and blooming on the edge of flower borders as if planted there on purpose. It grows about a foot tall and the highly ornamental flowers are born on 6-or-8-inch long stems. Each bloom is approximately two inches long and brilliant crimson red. The foliage of the plant is a vivid deep green. The flowers don’t last long but while they are there they are stunning. Then you can bury the plant in the ground to improve the soil. Certainly crimson clover was not being treated as a weed by English gardeners but more like a cultivated annual to be enjoyed while in bloom. Wildflowers attract many beneficials but, judging from my own experience, clover seems more attractive to ladybugs than almost any other plant in the garden.