"One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ladybugs on the loose.

As I mentioned in a previous post we've had a lot of aphids in our garden, much worse than usual for this time of year. Rather than spraying with pesticide which will also kill the good bugs we decided to release ladybugs again. When we have tried this before it made a huge difference in the aphid population. I also think it's a great way to teach my girls about how nature works, and how there are natural predators for many of the "bad bugs" in our garden. For example Dragonflies are excellent at catching mosquitoes, certain types of wasps will eat Aphids and of course spiders trap and eat many different types of "bad" insects. Rosie at Leaves n' Bloom did an excellent post about how beneficial lacewings are in the garden too.

These Ladies in Red are the same type of ladybugs we've released before. There are 1,500 ladybugs in this bag. We kept the bag in the refrigerator for a day until the weather was more cooperative. Keeping them at a lower temperature makes them "sleep" and then they quickly wake up after taking them out.

We trimmed off a corner of the bag and the ladybugs slowly start finding their way out. We had them crawling all over our hands as we carried the bag to different parts of the garden to release them. It's important to release them later in the day after watering so they don't just all fly away.

You can see they have plenty of aphids to eat. On the package it states that adult ladybugs can eat up to 80 aphids a day. They will also eat Spider mites, thrips and white flies.

We tried to have them crawl right onto the plants, but occasionally we had to shake them out a bit.

If you held the bag to your ear you could hear them crawling around inside. There were ladybugs with no spots and ladybugs with many spots. It's a myth that the number of spots they have equal their age. The number of spots can tell an entomologist what species of ladybug they are though.

Sweet Pea rescuing one off the driveway.

The Littlest Gardener sprinkling them on her rainbow garden.

Already getting to work eating Aphids.

Also according to the package it says that an adultLadybugs lay about 1,500 eggs in her lifetime. The baby ladybug larva look nothing like a ladybug, so you need to be careful not to get rid of the them. The larva will eat about 400 insects while in that stage, which lasts about 3 weeks.

Hopefully many of the ladybugs that we released will lay eggs here in our garden so that they will continue to be our natural pest control. When I see any ladybug eggs or larva I'll be sure to share pictures, I had never known what the larva looked like before we released ladybugs.
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51 comments:

  1. I've also notised that there's a lot of Aphids in the garden this year. But I don't think that I'm abel to bye ladybugs like that here. I hope that I'm lucky having enought of them in the garden already, this year they also seems to be a lot / gittan

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  2. Enjoyed your post, Catherine. I bet you all had fun releasing them and watching them go after those aphids. Great photos, as well. I haven't noticed a lot of aphids, but I will keep watch and your solution is a good one!

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  3. Great informative post Catherine. I really enjoyed it. I had my boys this weekend - wish I would have had some Ladybugs for them to release for me as I've seen Aphids here too. I don't know who has them in this area. Think I'll check around. Looks like maybe it'll be pretty today - hope so I'm sick of the rain now and have a kazillion flowers to plant!

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  4. I enjoyed learning all this info about ladybugs. That is such a cute photo of the Littlest Gardener with her Rainbow Garden! Hope you all enjoy the day.

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  5. A blog friend referred me to this site that is having a jewelry giveaway - I could not help but think of your "Sweet Pea." Check out the sweet pea necklace at this link
    http://beneathmyheart.blogspot.com/

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  6. What a great way to control the pests in the garden. The information on how to release the ladybugs was excellent. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Great info, Catherine. I think I will take a trip to Watson's and get some myself. I have a Gertrude Jekhal rose that is just covered in aphids and I don't want to use pesticides either. Great pictures. Have a good day.

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  8. Way too much fun ! I freak out with happiness over one ladybug...with a whole bag full I might pass out ! Loved this entry, Gina

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  9. Interesting, I am new to the gardening craft...so it is all news to me. Where do you buy ladybugs in bulk? Can you release them even if you don't have an aphid problem?

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  10. The Rainbow Garden is so cute! Releasing Ladybugs is a great idea, and I hope they eat all of your aphids.

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  11. What an informative write. Where did you purchase these ladies from? Worth a go.

    Love Sweetpea gardening.

    Have a lovely week.
    TTFN ~ Hugs, Marydon

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  12. Great idea, Catherine. I don't use pesticides or herbicides either. The environment thanks you.

    ps Dante's Beatrice Portinari

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  13. You are one smart gardener releasing those lady bugs and letting the girls enjoy the experience. A beautiful experience indeed-and goodbye aphids.

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  14. Thanks for sharing! I love the little one's rainbow garden. Kudos to you for getting your kids in the garden and teaching them about "good bugs" (my daughter likes to talk about good bugs eating bad bugs too!).

    Christine
    Publisher, Anarchist Potager
    http://anarchistpotager.blogspot.com/

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  15. I've never tried to buy lady bugs and I think that is so neat.

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  16. That was great information about releasing lady bugs. I've never done that but need to to get those spider mites most years. Lady bugs like my garden but having an army come in would be beneficial. Great photos.

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  17. Go ladybugs! I had aphids on my petunias last year. I found one ladybug and put her in it. Unfortunately I think they overcame her and she was eaten. lol. Thanks for this post. If I have problems this year, I want to buy some, too.

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  18. Hi Catherine

    Firstly thankyou so much for linking to my lacewing hotel post - I really appreciate that.

    As for those little ladybugs or ladybirds as we call them in the UK that is just amazing to have so many from one little bag. I hope they all stay in the garden and keep your aphids under control.

    Watch out you'll probably soon have those fantastic looking ladybug larvae in the garden and they are ferocious aphid eaters.

    Thanks again :) Rosie

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  19. The Littlest Gardener and I were just outside and found that many, many ladybugs were still on the plants. I could already see there were less aphids on one of the roses.

    Mildred - Thanks for sharing the link, I'll go check it out.

    Shauna and Marydon - I bought them at a nursery near us. I did see that Ladies in Red does sell them on their website as well.

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  20. Hi Catherine,

    What a great post and so informative. I didn't know that ladybugs also ate thrips. My daughter brings home ladybugs in her leftover ziploc bags from school, where they seem to have many of them. She releases them on her rose bush.

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  21. It looks like the little ladies are going right to work. I think it is an excellent idea to teach your children about keeping a natural balance with predator insects instead of resorting to poisons.
    Marnie

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  22. Love your garden, your photos are so good, I feel that I'm there. Our Ladybirds look a bit different to yours, but they're all gorgeous. We once bought home our cut Christmas tree (Radiata Pine), only to discover it was covered in Ladybirds and they were everywhere in the car! The most I'd ever seen!
    Maree.

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  23. Fabulous idea...but if my eyes didn't deceive me, did the company that is this eco-friendly REALLY ship them in a PLASTIC mesh bag???? Plastic? Which takes a million years to disintegrate?
    Ironic,no?

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  24. I noticed that my tomato plants have greenfly on them after a very warm spell here ~ some ladybird visitors would be most welcome. Not sure whether we can buy them like that Catherine ~ must investigate. Hope that they cure the problem.

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  25. Catherine,

    Hopefully you will not have to buy any more for a very long time if they breed there. We see at least a dozen here everyday if we look.

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  26. I'd better knock on wood before I day that I haven't seen aphids in the garden yet. But it's true I Haven't -- yet. I have, however, seen some ladybugs. And perhaps that's why I'm not seeing aphids :-)

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  27. Go ladybugs go! Ladybug larvae are even more voracious aphid-eaters, FYI.

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  28. Great post Catherine! Wow! what a lot of aphids! I love your photos!! Your next to the last photo is amazing!! I look forward to an update. Good luck!

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  29. Catherine, what a great solution rather than all of those sprays and powders. Even more important, your included your future gardener in the process.

    Eileen

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  30. Girl you do have aphids! This must really be a bad year for them. I well have to watch mine because the little buggers show up all at once it seems. The ladybugs are going right after them I can see them. Great pictures LOL! I bet the girls enjoyed that project. What a great solution.

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  31. Good for you - that's the best thing for your garden! I think I might have mentioned before that the city of Victoria uses ladybugs too, in it's parks.

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  32. We sold those at the nursery last year. I couldn't stand seeing them all wanting to come out of the bag.

    By the looks of it, I'd say they were in aphid heaven.

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  33. I noticed we had the same quote by W.E. Johns. Absolutely beautiful and inspiring garden. Your pond is lovely! I just got married in February and moved to the mountains, a colder climate for gardening. Feel free to visit me. Have a great day! http://blossomhideaway.blogspot.com/

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  34. Tell the Littlest Gardener that i think her rainbow garden is beautiful! Those ladybugs must be having a feast in your garden! I hope they and their offspring stick around. I was noticing some aphids the other day and wished I had more ladybugs.

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  35. They should definitely thrive with such a good food source Catherine!! You weren't kidding about having a lot of aphids! I hope they take care of your problem quickly ~ the roses are way too pretty to be covered in aphids like that.

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  36. It is really neat that your kids take an interest in the garden. Our youngest son who is 30 must have been paying attention as he lives in Maine now and is always talking about the different plants and is identifying them. I remember receiving a shipment of ladybugs for a landlord one time and she had ordered them but didn't know what she was to actually do with them. Neat blog.

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  37. How totally brilliant is that?

    I think it's superb that you can buy them by the bagload over in the states. I'm not aware that it's possible over here.

    Excellent post Catherine

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  38. How interesting and fun for your girls to be involved in this...love lady bugs. I still have a few poppies blooming!

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  39. We have a lot of ladybugs here and they are great for organic pest control.

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  40. How nice that you were able to find some locally. It looks like you've got quite a buffet laid out for them ;-) I hope they take care of all those aphids on your rose buds.

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  41. My parents always had such problems with aphids in their garden. I am glad you are not using pesticides but a natural solution. Your garden is glorious, to say the least. And, I love seeing those cute little ladybugs around :)

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  42. I want some....aphids or not. These are just too cute and such a wonderfully fun filled posting. I did not know you could by my favorite bug.

    Toodles,
    Kate - The Garden Bell

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  43. I love her little rainbow garden. I wish I knew how to get rid of these mice that came due to my birdfeeders, (without pesticides and such) which I had to finally take down this morning. I hate vermin!
    Brenda

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  44. Go get'em ladybugs. Eat those aphids. Enjoy.
    Suzane

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  45. A few weeks ago I saw a tiny cluster of yellowish/orange eggs under a rose leaf. They're already at home here. Probably because I've got two aphid magnet honeysuckle vines to cater to them.

    Great photos, Catherine. It is gratifying to teach our little [and in my case no-longer-so-little ones] the miracles of nature. Thems some happy Ladies in your garden!

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  46. Ladybug was a dirty word around here a few years back when we had an absolutely HORRENDOUS invasion of the little red darlings. It wasn't good enough for them to devour all the naughty buggies in the garden,,,, oh no,, they had to come inside the house and make themselves right at home. We had LADYBUG coffee, LADYBUG toothpaste, LADYBUG wallpaper and LADYBUG "may I snuggle up with you under the quilts?" It is truly insane when you have to vacuum them off the ceiling and windows every 15 minutes or else face a "black-out" in the room! Truly, I do not exaggerate. Honestly I haven't much cared for them ever since. Oh, I am sorry, I didn't mean to dampen your spirits, I am sure your little ladybugs are perfectly well behaved..... BUT BEWARE of those innocent looking little things.... cuz... you never know.....

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  47. That is brilliant! They look like they have plenty of aphids to eat there. I have bought biological controls in the past too, they work really well.

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  48. I love ladybugs. I used to catch and play when them when I was younger.I didn't know they are also helpful in killing pest. Wonderful post!

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  49. Don't you just love watching the ladybugs "do their thing" with the aphids! They are such amazing creatures.

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