This week we released ladybugs into the greenhouse to help control aphids. This is a safe and effective alternative to chemicals. Ladybug larvae will consume 400 medium sized aphids during it's development to the pupal stage. An adult ladybug can eat as much as 5,000 aphids during it's lifetime! 5,000 aphids in a year, that's impressive!
Managing Aphids with Ladybugs
It is easy to order ladybugs off the internet and I have provide a link to California-native ladybugs below. It is important that you are purchasing native ladybugs and NOT the Asian variety.
Asian ladybugs were purposely introduced to American in the later half of the 1900's by the Department of Agriculture to help control crop pests such as aphids and scale. Although they did do that is was learned that they are not as friendly as the native version. Asian ladybugs bite for one. They also will overwinter in your house if they can find a way in. Once they are in they may stain your walls and furniture with the sticky yellow fluid they secrete.
This certainly detracts from all those "ooh, aren't they cute" feelings we have when we see a ladybug. Can you imagine being worried about letting a child hold a ladybug because it might bite them? That just isn't right. Please buy only native ladybugs.
If you come across a ladybug an want to be sure it is of the native sort then check for a white spot at the back of it's head. If you find that white spot you may want to pass on picking it up but I will leave that up to you.
Once you receive your ladybugs put them in the fridge until you are ready to use them. It is best to release them in the evening. Before you let them out make sure there is a quick food source for them. You can buy lady bug food along with your ladybugs. This just gives them a boost after their long trip to your house. We use a powder form that you sprinkle on your plants then gently water. After this your ladybugs are all set to chow down on all those unwelcome guests in your garden. Remember that you don't have to release all your ladybugs at once. Save some in the fridge for 2-3 months. The longer they are stored the more likely some will be lost but it is good to have multiple releases to ensure that your pest problem is taken care of.
Like I stated in the video, ladybugs eat nectar when there are no pest around for them to munch on. Having flowering plants and herbs increases your chance of them sticking around for any future pests problems.
If you have an infestation ladybugs are not going to be enough. In this case I would recommend Safer Soap. It is a soap based insecticide that uses potassium fatty acids to kill arthropods and soft bodied insects. It works by breaking down the outer shell of the insect. NO synthetic chemicals involved. It is OMRI listed and compliant for organic horticultural practice. Simply spray it on and by the next day the little aphids are brown and all dried up. Reapply in several days, or anytime you see any new aphids to make sure you get any new hatchlings .
Have you ever used ladybugs before? How about Safer Soap insecticides?
Happy, healthy, clean eating!
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Hello, I'm Jaci. I look forward to sharing my gardening and homestead adventures to help you reach your gardening goals! If you have any questions then don't be shy, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a message and I will be glad to help!