Q: Why do I have so many ladybugs in my garden this year?
A: You’ve noticed more ladybugs too, eh? Lady bugs (also known as lady beetles) seem to be appearing in larger numbers than usual for this time of year. They are excellent additions to your garden because they are voracious hunters of some of the less welcome insects in your garden, especially aphids. The wonderful spring rains we enjoyed have given us lusher plants, and…sigh…more aphids. Aphids feed by sucking the moisture from your plants, so more water means more aphids. Aphids can reproduce very, very quickly (some are even technically born pregnant!). So the ladybugs are enjoying this bumper crop of their favorite food.
If you don’t thing the ladybugs are working quickly enough and you’re worried about aphid damage, you can also deal with aphids with a good strong stream of water. Once they are washed off, they cannot fly back up into the plant. In fact, the pressure of the water usually crushes them. Keep an eye on the plants you’ve washed and spray with the water again as needed. Insecticidal soap is another option for getting rid of the aphids.
We have many different lady bugs who visit us in Colorado. You can learn more about them by reading Colorado State Extension’s Fact Sheet 5.594 at www.ext.colostate.edu/PUBS/INSECT/05594.html.
And you can read more about aphids in Fact Sheet 5.511 at www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05511.html.
Contributed by Carey Harrington, Colorado Master Gardener. Photo by Colorado State Extension. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 636.8921 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com. Access fact sheets and seasonal information on the El Paso County Horticulture website http://elpasoco.colostate.edu/horticulture/.