An Alameda Garden: Ladybugs to the Rescue

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ladybugs to the Rescue

All summer long I've been watching my Snail vine suffer from a full-on assault by aphids. Every time I watered I blasted them with the hose, but they kept coming back and bringing their friends. It's been so frustrating to think that this vine could be so beautiful but between the frosts last winter and the aphids this summer, it's looking really pathetic. It was time to bring in the troops.

I ordered some Sta-Home Lady Beetles from Gardens Alive and tonight I released them in the garden. The complaint that I've always heard about using ladybugs for aphid control is that you can release hundreds of them and they'll quickly disappear from your garden. But these ladybugs supposedly arrive ready to lay eggs. The eggs hatch within a week, producing an entire crop of very hungry larvae that can't fly away and that are capable of consuming even more aphids than the mature ladybugs. Within a month the original order of 900 ladybugs will produce 10,000 larvae. Now that's a surge!

A friend has also told me that a heavy aphid infestation is an indication that the soil is lacking in phosphorus. I guess the next step is adding regular doses of bone meal to the soil. Any other suggestions? I'm in a take-no-prisoners sort of mood.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what I think about that... especially in light of the high amounts of phosphorous that we are putting into the soil and water all the time. Can you do a soil test first to see where you are in terms of phosphorous, and find out if there is indeed a correlation?

    Also check to see if the snail vines naturally attract more aphids than other plants... I know that my asclepias tuberosa is a known aphid magnet like that. I just pack them in with other plants to "hide" the ugly parts--the bright orange blooms go a long way toward hiding them too, though.


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