Inside: How to make a ladybug habitat to teach your kids about nature, empathy, and life – plus a Free 5 Little Ladybugs Printable.
“Do we have to let them go today?” My son moaned.
He had taken good care of the ladybugs – feeding them, picking fresh plants for their habitat, telling them stories. His eyes grew shiny as he thought about saying goodbye.
I considered my answer.
When we picked up a container of ladybugs at the garden store, I’d expected to spend the week learning about adorable red beetles. But what started as a science activity had become so much more.
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How Your Kids Will Benefit From a Ladybug Habitat
We checked on the ladybugs first thing each morning, ate lunch with them, and said goodnight at the end of the day. We read books to learn facts about their life cycle and needs.
As the days went on, I noticed my son learning more than scientific facts.
Caring for Animals Builds Empathy
We had several conversations about what ladybugs need to survive and be comfortable. Thinking about someone else’s needs and how to meet them, can help kids develop the critical skill of empathy.
Building a Connection with Nature
Kids are motivated to protect our environment when they have a solid connection with nature. Caring for ladybugs builds that connection.
Ladybugs in captivity need fresh food and water daily. Caring for ladybugs gives kids a chance to practice responsibility – a skill that will serve them well in life.
Learning About Death
Usually, there are a few dead ladybugs in the container from the garden center. This gives us the chance to open up a dialogue about death.
We may be tempted to gloss over the topic of death, but addressing it honestly serves our children well.
A Bittersweet Goodbye
“The ladybugs will be happier outside,” I said as I carried the ladybug habitat into the yard.
“Why?” My son asked.
“Well, if you were a ladybug, would you want to be in a cage, or out in the fresh air eating aphids?” I asked.
“Outside eating aphids,” He answered. A slow smile crept across his face.
The mood lifted as we watched the ladybugs creep slowly from the habitat. They began to flutter around. Some settled in the garden, some disappeared into the sky – free.
My son learned so much from those adorable red beetles. Here’s how you can make one for your family.
How to Make a Ladybug Habitat to Teach Your Kids About Life
Supplies at a Glance
- Butterfly Garden (or another container for the ladybugs)
- Fresh leaves and twigs
Setting up the Ladybug Habitat
1. Find a container. The Butterfly Garden is my favorite one to use. It has plenty of room for the ladybugs to move around and zips up tightly to prevent escapes.
2. Get some ladybugs at your local garden store. Pop them in the fridge when you get home so they are sleepy when you transfer them to your ladybug habitat. Just be sure no one mistakes them for a gourmet snack.
3. Add fresh leaves and twigs to the ladybug habitat.
5. Use an eyedropper to drip water on the leaves and twigs. Avoid making puddles that the ladybugs might get stuck in.
6. Gently pour the entire contents of the ladybug container into the Butterfly Garden and zip it up tightly.
Caring for the Ladybugs
- Give the ladybugs fresh raisins and water daily.
- Add new leaves to the ladybug habitat as needed.
- Release the ladybugs after 5-7 days.
Quick Tips for Success
- Only open the ladybug habitat when the ladybugs are inactive. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon are generally good times.
- Pick up some factual books on ladybugs to read while observing the ladybug habitat.
- Ladybugs can squeeze through the air holes in some bug carriers. If you’re using something like a Kritter Keeper, stretch an old pair of pantyhose over the top and secure it under the lid to allow for airflow while keeping the ladybugs in.
- Show your kids how to hold out a finger and let the ladybugs crawl on. Pinching the ladybugs to pick them up can easily smoosh them.
- Drip water onto the mesh sides of the Butterfly Garden and watch the ladybugs come to drink.
- Keep a journal of your family’s thoughts and observations.
- Release the ladybugs in the morning or evening, after watering the garden, to help them to stick around.
- Download the 5 Little Ladybugs Free Printable and learn a fun counting rhyme about Ladybugs!