Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ladybird Liberation


Things have mellowed in the garden, partly thanks to the fact that there were no new plants waiting when I got home from work last night! Dave did some online research and found a web site that recommends geraniums for gardens with underplanted bluebells and grape hyacinths -- exactly our situation. So I feel more confident that they won't kill our wildflowers. He agrees that we probably need to find another place for the hydrangeas, and I think he understands that I need to feel more a part of the garden decision-making.

Meanwhile, another of Dave's purchases arrived yesterday -- a box of ladybugs, or "ladybirds," as they are known in Britain. We bought them to help control aphids and other pests, which we have in abundance on some plants, as you can see from the photo of the campion above.


The ladybirds came crawling around in a hard plastic box...


...many huddled on a piece of non-sticky tape within the box. The directions were to simply open the box and leave it on a desirable plant, or gently encourage the bugs to crawl out onto the leaves.

We put a couple of bugs on each rose bush...


...and some on our lily-of-the-valley, which has easily visible aphids clustered along the stems.


They really seemed to like the campion, and they're still there this morning, feasting on the aphids.

These are native British ladybirds that came in a box of 20. Dave also bought a box of lacewings, another beneficial garden insect. They haven't arrived yet, but my guess is they'll come today. His coworkers think he is insane to be spending money on bugs! I think they're great, though, and apparently they won't fly away as long as they're able to find food.

12 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Truly remarkable photos, Steve!

Marty Damon said...

Ladybugs are one of the few insects that don't bring out the "Eeeww!" in me.
Just be aware that when the weather gets cold, they may decide to join you indoors.

Ms. Moon said...

This makes my heart happy.

Lynne said...

We have one bedroom in our house where the ladybugs like to hibernate. It's very creepy in spring when we open the door to that bedroom and find them EVERYWHERE.

Normally I like ladybugs, but not in my house!

Vivian said...

i have an abundance of lady bugs...maybe i should try to sell some

John Gray said...

I never realised that you can BUY ladybirds! Wow

Sharon Anck said...

You have a real "circle of life" thing going on in your garden. I love it and I love your macro shots. Very nice!

e said...

Great photos and I did not know ladybirds and lacewings could be purchased, either. Your garden looks lovely.

Sabine said...

Great photos!

I'll be curious to find out how the ladybirds succeed. We have tons of them inside and out - and all over the plants but far more aphids (black, green and white).

I usually mix a bowl of very sudsy organic washing-up liquid (ecover etc.) and stick the blossoms, buds, leaves etc. in the foam or gently trickle the foam on them, whatever works best, so that the foam stays on it for a while. The aphids suffocate and get washed off with the next rain. The plants don't suffer a bit.

ellen abbott said...

well, they will fly away when the food supply is exhausted. I've bought ladybugs before and a praying mantis egg case. we had mantises for years after. lacewings are pretty bugs I think and they lay their eggs on long threads that stick out and away from whatever it is attached to, apparently because the newly hatched lacewings will feed on each other if they are too close together.

Steve Reed said...

Elizabeth: Thanks!

Marty Damon: Yeah, people seem to like ladybugs. I think that spotted shell gives them a less icky, buggy appearance.

Ms Moon: Good. Mine too. :)

Lynne: I remember you writing about that before! Hopefully these guys will stay outside!

Vivian: A new cottage industry for you!

John: The Internet is an amazing thing! :)

Sharon: We are really trying to encourage the insects and all the critters. (Even the foxes!) I have a real feeling that my neighbor is using bug spray, though, so I hope the ladybugs stay on OUR side of the fence.

E: Thanks!

Sabine: We see natural ladybirds every year but I'll also be interested to see if we have a greater concentration of them now. I've used the soap method, too. It does work!

Ellen: I expect them to disperse eventually. They're still out there this morning! I haven't seen a praying mantis egg case on offer -- I wonder if we can buy those here?

jenny_o said...

Oh, good for you for using natural pest control! I've always loved ladybugs just for their beautiful spots.