You've seen dozens of weddings where they release white doves. You've been to weddings where they let loose hundreds of butterflies. You've seen guests throw rice, birdseed, and soap bubbles. What do you do when you want to make your celebration stand apart from the crowd? The answer lies in two of nature's most adorable insects: ladybugs and fireflies.
Ladybugs are known as lucky critters around the world; the Turkish word for ladybug is literally translated as "good luck bug." Bring a little luck to your wedding with these tiny, brightly-colored creatures.
Many couples are already using a ladybug theme to great advantage. Ladybug ornaments make popular additions to hairdos and flower arrangements, especially for springtime or garden weddings. A distinctive red-with-black-spots ladybug pattern can enliven anything from cupcake icing to the bridesmaids' fingernails. Regardless of whether your wedding is already making use of artificial ladybugs, however, there's always room for the real thing.
Ladybug releases are popular alternatives to dove releases and butterfly releases for one very important reason: ladybugs eat aphids (one of the most destructive pests known to plant-kind). Each adult ladybug will have an appetite for about 5,000 aphids in its lifetime, in fact. They also eat grape root worms, mites, bean thrips, and a variety of other plant pests. This striking feature makes ladybugs a best friend to not only gardeners, but to anyone who enjoys a healthy salad or beautiful bouquet.
While dove and butterfly releases can be tricky to pull off safely, ladybug releases are much more reliable. Releases of doves and butterflies are very much limited by weather, temperature, and season. With ladybugs, you can release them in the wind or rain and they will still fly happily away. As long as the temperature is warmer than about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, they will be active participants in your nuptials.
If you order ladybugs online, they will arrive through the usual mail system. Ask your supplier for instructions on caring for your specific batch, but the usual procedure involves setting the bugs (still in their containers) in your refrigerator to keep them dormant until the big day. You should order your bugs to arrive no more than a day or two before the wedding.
On the day of the wedding, take the ladybugs out of the refrigerator. At room temperature, they will start to wake up and move around. When people open their ladybug bags for the release, the critters will crawl out and perch on guests' hands before flying away. It makes for beautiful photos as well as good luck for anyone the ladybugs land upon.
For an evening wedding reception, there's no better release than fireflies. While butterflies and doves have a strict schedule that limits their release to the nowhere-near-twilight hours (otherwise they try to settle for the night and end up getting eaten by predators), fireflies love the dark. Naturally active at twilight, late releases are when these luminous critters really shine.
Reports are coming in from scientists all over the world that the global firefly population may be in decline. To encourage more fireflies in your area, it's important to not merely order shipments of the bugs, but to also make the surrounding area more firefly-friendly. That way, they'll be sure to stick around. If you're releasing the little guys near your home or a park that you frequent, you'll be able to see the lights twinkling on and off every evening. Even if you're not releasing them near your house, you can encourage more fireflies to live in your neighborhood with these steps. Every time you see their light, you'll be reminded of your wedding day.
To encourage fireflies to live in your area (or to continue to grace your wedding reception after their release), try to keep outside lighting to a minimum. Since fireflies rely so heavily on their own lights for mating signals and communication, they can become confused by bright human lights in the area.
Another way to make the area firefly-friendly is to leave fallen trees and tree limbs on the ground. Fireflies make their homes in fallen natural debris and it provides their larvae with a safe place to grow. You can also collect mossy logs from elsewhere and use them to define garden boundaries. Additionally, fireflies love water, so consider adding a few water features (such as a small pond) to your landscaping. Chlorinated pools, unfortunately, don’t count.
Fireflies (understandably) don't like living near pesticides, so be sure that the area where you release them hasn’t been treated with weed killers or insecticides. Be especially wary of the chemicals you use to fertilize your lawn or to control mosquitoes. (If you're going to spray for mosquitoes, you can reduce the impact on fireflies by not spraying at dusk.) By keeping longer grass in your lawn, you'll not only encourage fireflies, but you'll have a perfect excuse for letting your mowing go.
A Beautiful Release
Whether you opt for a colorful release of ladybugs that shine in the sun, or a brilliant release of fireflies that shine in the night, your wedding will be graced with extra beauty when you involve these six-legged guests. Be sure to follow all instructions when caring for them pre-release to ensure that you have healthy, happy critters that fill the sky like living confetti.