Ladybugs vs. Aphids: Last One Standing

ladybug on Allium

Last bug standing?

I mentioned last week that I would be heading to the garden center for another batch of living ladybugs.  My lovely, onion-scented Allium is dripping in aphids and soot.  Ick, yuck and blech!

The first batch of ladybugs made some progress, but now all but one or two are gone.  They didn’t even leave a note to say why.

Where did they go?  The tasty aphid smorgasbord remains.   What’s an organic gardener to do?

Then I read this from

Tolerate low to moderate numbers of aphids as long as they aren’t causing noticeable plant damage. There is a reason for this: aphids have many natural enemies such as spiders, ladybugs, lacewings and minute parasitoids (tiny non-stinging wasps) that often keep aphid numbers below damaging levels. These beneficial insects rarely appear on the scene until after aphids have begun attacking plants. This “lag-time” can be a day or two or as long as several weeks. As the season progresses, aphid control by these natural enemies improves because more natural enemies are attracted to your garden and more stay to breed.

So…I’m taking the wait and see approach as I keep a close eye on the plant.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to identify a different set of insects on my beloved pumpkins.  Stop by later this week for a look-see.  I bet you can hardly wait. 😉

It’s a Bug’s Life

Confession time.

Are you ready?

I’ve got some mad skills but they have little to do with gardening. I excel at raising insects and bugs.  Not to toot my own horn, but I think I might qualify for ‘Top Incubator of Garden Pests.’

Don’t believe me?  Come take a look:

After chatting you up about my gorgeous coleus, and my plans to take cuttings for next year, I found this:

Spider Mites or Whitefly?

Spider Mites or Whitefly?

I’m not sure if I have whiteflies or spider mites or both, but boy are they prolific. While watering the plant this evening, I removed a large, partially eaten leaf. When I turned it over, I could see that a small family had moved in. In just a week’s time, they spread to half of the plant’s leaves and part of the soil. Damn I’m good!

Next up, aphids.  Why settle for a hundred aphids when a gazillion will do?  The more the merrier, I always say.  I noticed a bit of ‘black soot’ on the stems of my soon to bloom Allium, but I just walked right on by.  Might as well let the aphids settle in first.



By the time I made it to the garden center for a batch of ladybugs, the party was well under way.  The ladybugs arrive in a container saying pre-fed.  Huh? I guess all that good aphid food will just go to waste.


Aphids, and the ladybugs that love them

Saving the best for last, will you take a look at that Scale?  I diligently removed all traces of scale earlier in the year while the tree was dormant.  I manually scraped the scale into a bucket, then went back over the young branches with warm soap and water.  I run a tight ship here. I cleaned those branches top to bottom to get the tree ready for the new residents.  They moved in early this summer, and show no signs of leaving.  In fact, it looks like they’ve invited a few guests.

scale on magnolia


In case you’re interested:

Ladybug, Ladybug, Char-donn-ay!


Sterling Vineyard Napa Valley 2010 Chardonnay
Ladybugs, ready for dinner at dusk. What’s on the menu? Aphids.

I’m repeating this soothing mantra as I reach for inner calm after this tragic week.  Ladybug, ladybug, chardonnay; ladybug, ladybug, chardonnay. Professionals warn that viewing too many violent images will only confound our sense of loss, sadness and grief. As we honor and grieve for the people of Boston, MA and West, TX, may the sun shine in their lives again soon.

Wont you come with me?

You can lighten your load at:

Marking Our Territory.  Meet Will and Eko, a man and his Rhodesian Ridge-back.  Will writes with wit and sensitivity.  Wise and silly and full of unconditional love. Today’s entry: One Minute of Pure Joy. You’ll be grinning in no time.

Boomdeeadda blogs about art, life and other bits.  Her posts are light-hearted and often whimsical. She holds a special place in my heart and makes the dark days brighter. Boomdee has something for everyone: a bit of history about her home town of Edmonton, beautiful crafts (and tutorials) and a pair of sweet kitties. Go take a look. You know you want to!) You’re welcome. 🙂

Teddy and Tottie is a recent follow.  I enjoy her posts, and think you will too. Today, she published a recipe of comfort food:  Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins.  Yum!  Let me know if you give the recipe a try.


Snapdragons and Status

Snapdragons and Status

The Ladybug Diet

Water First to Disperse the Pests

Water First

Weight Watchers teaches you to eat well, and South Beach helps break sugar cravings, but have you heard of the Ladybug Diet?  Those red-spotted beauties consume several times their body weight, ridding your roses of numerous garden pests.  I wish I could consume several times my body weight in a day and remain looking as fresh as the Coccinella septempunctata.

Ladybugs, also referred to as ladybirds, eat Aphids, Spider Mites, Thrips, White Fly and other harmful pests.  They are a boon to organic gardeners and a treat for the youngsters in the house, who enjoy setting them out at dusk.

Most garden centers now sell containers of live lady bugs.  I bought ours at Almaden Valley Nursery. Keep them in a cool place during the day when they’re inactive.

Tuesday night we watered the infested plant, cut open the mesh bag and offered them dinner.  By morning, they had done a decent job eradicating the pests.   Some years it takes two “applications” to wipe out the aphids or flies, but it’s always a treat to see hundreds of them gathered in one place so we don’t mind.

Ladybugs and Aphids

Ladybugs and Aphids

Garden Lady's: Nature's Pest Control

Garden Lady’s: Nature’s Pest Control

Dinner Awaits

Dinner Awaits

It's 9:00.  Do you know where your ladybugs are?

It’s 9:00. Do you know where your ladybugs are?

Read more about these farming heroes and the origin of the ladybug rhyme at Animal Planet.