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Lady Bugs Are More Than Just Lucky

September 10, 2016

leaf with damage caused by aphids

Everybody has heard the superstition that ladybugs are good luck, but did you know that they are also known as one of the most beneficial garden insects out there?  It’s true because they feed on destructive sap-sucking insects like aphids, mites, and scale. Ladybugs, also known as lady beetles, need three things to survive and thrive: water, pollen, and insect pests.  Ladybugs are most commonly used to get rid of those frustrating aphids. They are incredibly effective because just one ladybug can eat up to five thousand aphids in its lifetime.  And that’s just one ladybug; imagine what a whole colony could do.  

So why should you be concerned about aphids? First things first, aphids are thought of as the most despised of all the garden pests.  These sap-sucking nuisances can be found in clusters on the stems or the young leaves of plants.  The damage that they can cause to your plants includes mutation and stunted growth, which looks like the leaves are curling up.  In addition, aphids can transmit diseases from plant to plant, similar to the way mosquitoes transmit diseases among humans.  Furthermore, aphids sometimes secrete a honeydew substance, which is bad for two reasons: first, a nasty black fungus grows on the honeydew substance and causes further damage to your plant, not to mention its displeasing appearance; and second, ants feed on the honeydew substance which leads to an ant infestation that could spread through your yard and they may even spread into your home.  Ants will protect aphids from ladybugs, so you should try to clear out any ant infestations before introducing ladybugs.

Do you have an aphid problem in your garden?  The South Florida pest control pros here at Nozzle Nolen recommend that you try using ladybugs as a natural and effective solution for your aphid problem.

There are a couple ways to go about introducing ladybugs to your garden.  You could try to attract them to your garden naturally or you could purchase them and then simply release them into your garden.  

If you want to attract them naturally, there are a few things you can try.  First, ladybugs like pollen and they tend to gravitate toward flat flowers that are white or yellow in color.  Some plants that attract ladybugs are caraway, chives, cilantro, cosmos, calendula, angelica, dill, fennel, feverfew, marigold, statice, sweet alyssum, and yarrow.  Second, ladybugs go to where there is abundant food, so if you have an aphid population then you should just leave it be and let nature do its thing.  It can be hard to sit idly by while the aphids damage your favorite plants, so you could plant some decoy plants that will attract the aphids and temporarily save your favorite plants. Some decoy plants that attract aphids are early cabbage, marigold, radish, and nasturtium.  Lastly, to attract ladybugs naturally, it is best to refrain from using insecticides since they kill all bugs whether they are destructive or beneficial.

On other hand, the fastest way to introduce ladybugs to your garden is to simply purchase them.  After you order your ladybugs, they are safely shipped to you in a cloth bag with wood chips in it.  Once you have your ladybugs, it is all about how you choose to release them into your garden so that they will stay.  You don’t want them to fly away right after you release them.  Choose a good spot to release them, such as an aphid-infested plant, and then lightly water your spot before releasing the ladybugs so that there will be water for them on the leaves when you let them go.   Timing is important as well; it is best to release them in the twilight hours.  We here at Nozzle Nolen recommend releasing the ladybugs in the late afternoon around sunset so that they will settle down overnight.   If you follow this advice then you will see results within days of releasing the ladybugs.

Do you need tips on how to get rid of an ant infestation?  Check in later for “DIY: Ghost Ant Edition” where I will talk about some at-home methods you can try.  If you have any questions about ladybugs and aphids or if you are interested in our pest control services, please call (888) 685-0376 to speak with one of our friendly customer service representatives.


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