318. Ladybugs

The Double Knockout Roses that got planted as a hedge in my front yard a few weeks ago look outrageously good.  I keep pinching myself and holding my breath waiting to see what may befall them.

Yesterday, though, daughter Susy noticed something on them.  Aphids. “Better get rid of ‘em”, she said.  

Went to Fred Meyer. Was looking for “aphid” spray. Noticed these strange mesh/plastic bags with stuff crawling around inside of them. The cardboard label said “Live Ladybugs will eat aphids and other plant pests”.  

I bought the bag – not only because I wanted to get rid of the aphids, but also because I was compelled to free those poor ladybugs from their hellish environment inside those plastic bags. It looked like they were living in hell.

The instruction said to release the ladybugs in the evening – right after watering.  They don’t fly at night, so the theory is that if you release them during the evening, they’ll find food and water and settle down for a long stay.  Otherwise, if released during daytime, they may take off looking for food in greener (buggier) pastures. They can only fly for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, but they can travel up to 100 miles in search of food.

It looks like they like my yard so far. Each ladybug lives up to 2 years, can have hundreds of babies, and can eat up to 80 aphids or other plant pests per day.  Ever since they were released, the little creatures look like they’re munching away in a Heaven-sent resort.

Besides aphids, also on the menu for these hungry little pest eaters are small insects such as thrips, whitefly, mealybugs, scales, mites, bollworm, broccoli worm, tomato hornworm and cabbage moth. They will also eat the eggs of some insects such as moth eggs, and certain ladybugs eat pollen and mildew.

I’m telling you all this in case you have a yen to murder any plant pests. So alright, alright.  I know, I know. In fairness, should I be on the side of the poor aphids?  They too have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And they do.  Just not in my yard.  Not on my wonderful brand-new-this-year double knockout roses.

What really sold me was the info on Wikipedia that said that during the Middle Ages, the crops were dying.  All the Catholic farmers were desperately praying to the Virgin Mary for a miracle. It turned up in the form of a horde of insects.  Horrified, the farmers figured that the crops were doomed – that the insects would demolish what was left of the crops.  Instead, they started destroying the pests which had been killing off the crops.  And ever since, the farmers called them “ladybugs” – the “bugs” sent from the Virgin Mary.  (They’re not bugs, though, they’re really beetles.) 

Any beetle that’s named after the Blessed Mother is definitely a friend of mine.  Now let’s just hope it’ll do its duty for my roses.

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2 Responses to 318. Ladybugs

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Very cool! I like the ladybugs. I should have gotten ladybugs a couple of years ago when aphids took over our garden! The aphids on our nasturtiums (and eventually everything else) were so bad that the ants were farming them. I had never heard of ants farming aphids before, so I learned something interesting from that experience at least. I’m glad to hear that ladybugs are helping to solve your problem! Sounds like a much nicer solution than chemicals.

  2. A relative says:

    I just love the Red Ladies! We run outside and peak at them every now and again. They are munching away at the Knockout Rose aphid population. I want to run over to Fred Meyer and buy up all the baggies of Red Ladies and just set them free. They are not meant to be trapped in those mesh baggies. I mean they must have a really really short shelf life!!
    Susy

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