Ladybugs, nature’s pesticide

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On my last trip to Bachman’s (my favorite local garden center), I was thrilled to discover that they had ladybugs for sale! Ladybugs are one of the best natural predators and are very beneficial to our gardens. They are one of the good bugs!

Most people I know hate using pesticides, and I do too! The biggest problem with pesticides is that they kill the good bugs right along with the bad bugs. In fact, some of the bad bugs are resistant to pesticides, so essentially what we’re doing by spraying pesticides is killing the good bugs and helping out the bad bugs. The best thing we can do is to let nature take it’s course and introduce more of the good bugs to control the bad bug populations.

Sold! $11.99 plus tax bought me a bag of 1,500 ladybugs. I couldn’t wait to get home and release them!!

Releasing the ladybugs around my yard was a bigger task than I expected. You can’t just open the bag and let them all out in one spot.

They are territorial so you can only release a few in any one spot, otherwise they will just fly away and find their own spot.

The instructions didn’t say how many you are supposed to release in one spot so I had no idea what I was doing. The instructions did say to water the yard first (because the ladybugs will be thirsty) and release them in low light conditions, preferably in the evening. Ok, sounds doable.

At first I was releasing them one at a time and making sure they got on a plant leaf. It was pretty amazing to watch them, as soon as they set foot on the leaf, they would head straight to a water drop and drink. 

I found this fascinating; I’ve never seen ladybugs drink before. I was easily distracted by this process and before I knew it, I would look down and there would be 10 ladybugs crawling up my hand and arm. I tried not to be squeamish when I was release them, but when you look down and a bunch of them are crawling up your hand and arm at a rapid speed, it’s really hard not to want to swat them off, drop the bag and run away screaming! I was able to contain myself.
After about an hour of doing this, I decided to just drop a few around the yard here and there to try to speed things up.

This was easier said than done since they were crawling on the mesh bag and wouldn’t just fall off when I shook it.

So I was trying to carefully grab a few out of the bag and drop them around. By the time it got dark out, the bag didn’t seem like it was much emptier than it was when I started, so I gave up for the night and put the rest into the fridge.

Apparently if you put them in the fridge, they fall asleep and you can store them in there for up to 2 weeks. Amazing! No need to store them that long around here… then next night I spent another hour releasing the ladybugs around the yard, it seemed like a never ending bag of ladybugs!

But the task is done and my yard is now home to at least 1,500 ladybugs… and of those 1,500 ladybugs that I spread out in my yard, I felt like at least 100 of them were crawling on me all night!

Now it’s time to let nature take its course, I can’t wait to see if it makes a difference! I sure hope that most of them will stay in my yard; there is definitely plenty for them to eat out there!!

Here are some other facts about ladybugs that were included with the instructions (Instructions printed by Beneficial Entomology company, St. Paul, MN):
  • Ladybugs feed on aphids, whitefly, thrips, mites, cinch bugs, alfalfa weevils, scale insects and other soft-bodied insects.
  • “Ladybugs do not feed on vegetation”
  • “They have few enemies because of their hard shell and bitter taste… Poisonous spray is their number one hazard.”
  • “Upon hatching, a Ladybug larva will eat an average of 400 aphids.”
  • “As adults, Ladybugs may eat another 5,000 aphids.”
  • “Ladybugs’ voracious appetites and quick reproduction allow them to rapidly clean out their prey.”

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Comments

  1. says

    Great and very informative post … and you make me feel it … dozens of "voracious Ladybugs" around me … I can hear them: crunch, crunch, crunch.
    Any update on your experiment?

    • says

      Hi Scented Leaf! Thanks for you nice comment! The ladybugs have been awesome! I had a terrible aphid problem before I released these ladybugs. The problem went away, of course. I released more last summer, and again, my aphid problem was gone. I will definitely continue to release ladybugs in my gardens every year. I highly recommend it!

      Amy

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