Where Did We Leave Off?
In my fist lady bug episode, I was going to bust out the big guns on my aphid problem with a plastic bag of red speckled whoop-ass. I let the ladybugs go in my greenhouse, and waited to see what happened.
Did Releasing Ladybugs Work?
No. At least, not yet. Its been three weeks, and I still have a severe aphid problem. The bag originally had 1500 ladybugs in it, Today I counted about 10 that I could still see in the greenhouse.
What Went Wrong?
Honestly, I think the biggest problem was my expectations. I expected the ladybugs to eat all the aphids with audible chewing noises until not a single one remained. I was sure this was going to happen within 48 hours of release. Needless to say I was treated to crushing disappointment. Upon further research, it became clear to me that the ladybug bomb was not a one time nuke, but as with so many things in the garden, built up momentum over time. I found as I scanned several resources, that what you are trying to do is introduce ladybugs, encourage them to stay, have babies and repeat that process throughout the seasons. You see, the first release will indeed fly away, or at least around, but if you’ve done a good job at creating a ladybug resort, they will hang around and party, make bad decisions, and end up producing lots and lots of ladybug larvae. These larvae are hungry teenagers, will eat everything in sight like teenagers do, and eventually turn into adult ladybugs. But seeing no reason to leave their comfy resort stocked with all the aphid amenities any beneficial insect could desire, the new adult generation will also stick around and party, and so on and so on. It just takes time.
My plan is now to layer methods. I will still continue to use ladybugs as a long term aphid control. I’ll keep you posted on how they do. In the short run, I am going to take more direct measures to stem my problem, such as chopping off the infested leaves and squashing the aphids with my shoe. One of our fellow adventurers, Julie S., swears by hosing them off. I will cave and try that too. Farmer John has a most unique and interesting way of aphid control, but that’s another post. As always, I will let you know we are doing, what is working and what is not. Stay tuned!