Seeing a ladybug or ladybeetle in our garden always elicites an “Awww …” or “Ooohhh …”. And when we spotted these hibernating ladybugs on a Purissima Creek Redwoods hike, it was like discovering the mother lode of natural pest control!
“Holy smokes, there must be at least a thousand bucks worth of ladybugs here!” my wife utters within earshot of the ranger. She grins with a “Oh, don’t worry, that was meant to get a reaction from you.”
We have, in fact, purchased ladybugs to control aphids and other pests. However, these ladies and gents love to fly around and explore the neighborhood – not an issue if you have a large property or farm. If not, your investment often ends up right in your neighbors’ properties. Hmm … There must be a better solution, we thought.
After some research (google these insects and you’ll find many commercial sources like GardensAlive! on the Web), we discovered green lacewings, also known as “aphid lions”. These voracious eaters appear to be more effective than ladybugs in controlling pests, but only at their larval stage. (1-3 wks). They do like to “stay local” and have reappeared in our garden the following year. We’ll talk more about lacewings some time in the spring.
What’s been your experience using ladybugs to control pests in your veggie garden?