Spider_DBG_LAH_7406Q: I’ve heard about using ladybugs to eat the bad bugs in my garden. Do they work?

A: If we set a thief to catch a thief, then why not set a bug to eat a bug? Sometimes the best way to control an outbreak of an insect pest is to use another insect, or a close relative (such as spiders). Ladybugs, the most famous of these insect killers, are wimps compared to some of the other predatory critters in your garden. Lacewing larvae, ground beetles, praying mantises, wasps, hover flies, spiders… there are plenty of beasties who are more than happy to keep garden pests under control.

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Q: Why do I have so many ladybugs in my garden this year?

ladybeetlecsu.jpgA: 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. (more…)