Every garden is at risk of attracting insects that could impact the health of a plant – or the entire garden. While it might be tempting to use insecticides to get rid of these little buggies, there are some natural ways to incorporate pest control into your garden. This is true for lady beetles and aphids.
Aphids are insects with soft bodies and piercing, sucking mouthparts. These tiny insects – only the size of a pinhead – feed on plant sap. They are often found in groups (officially called colonies) on the softer parts of plants where it is easy for them to feed. This can cause these parts of the plants (often the leaves) to turn yellow because of all the sap they have lost to these critters.
In most cases, this will not cause serious harm to the plant if the plant is healthy and older. Younger and more sensitive plants could show damage like deformed leaves, flowers, or fruit. On the other hand, aphids could spread plant viruses. These viruses are difficult to contain with insecticides because only a tiny, short probe or bite from an aphid could infect a plant.
Lady beetles, also called ladybird beetles or ladybugs, have distinctive curved bodies and are classified as beneficial predatory insects. Their bodies can be red, pink, orange, yellow, or black and covered in those characteristic spots.
That means their presence in your garden helps keep potentially damaging insects at bay. There are more than 450 different lady beetle species in North America. Most of these species feed mainly on aphids.
One lady beetle eats 50 or more aphids a day. In its lifetime, a lady beetle could eat as many as 5,000 aphids. Different species of lady beetles could prefer to eat a particular species of aphids. In contrast, others feed on a variety of aphids.
Lady beetles are helpful in preventing a pest outbreak and can protect both crops and gardens. Beneficial insects like lady beetles are sold for release and perfect to keep your plants safe from sap-sucking feeders like aphids.
Watch the Ladybugs at work!
Make sure you have a plethora of aphids before spending money on the lady beetles. Because one beetle eats about 50 aphids per day, if the aphids aren’t abundant in your garden, the lady beetles will fly away to find another food source.
Release the ladybugs in an area where you have planted a variety of plants. This will give them more choices and more of a reason to stay in your garden.
Support your local businesses by purchasing lady beetles from your local nursery. Ours is www.rockledgegardens.com Social - @rockledgegardens