Last weekend as I was tending to my roses I noticed the dreaded aphid. There's a reason they are called "plant lice" and they deserve the ugly name. It's amazing to me that such a little bug can cause so much damage. They suck out the plants sap and thus the life out of your plants, leaving the weak and sickly. Seeing them on my roses was particularly disheartening as I have been pampering and reviving these bushes for over a year and they are thriving. There was no way I was going to let a nasty little bug take control. But what was I to do? Get rid of them, that's what.
There are many pesticides available for getting rid of aphids, but that is not an option for me. These particular roses are quite tall and growing through the top of our arbor. They are a favorite playground and hiding place for all the little sparrows that watch me like muchkins in the morning while I am feeding Ellen and watering the vegetables. There is no way I am going to put poison there. There are however a lot of organic solutions, the most prevalent being neem oil. I tried neem oil for powdery mildew last year and it really was not as effective as the milk bath I have been giving my roses weekly and I don't want to stop that. After searching across the web I found many articles suggesting ladybugs for the job. There is even a site dedicated to ladybugs!
It seemed a little weird to order ladybugs online so I looked around to see if I could buy them locally. No luck. Believe it or not, everyone was sold out! Well, if that's the case then they must work. I went online and found Hirt's Garden sold them on Amazon. When I am ordering from a new vendor I prefer to go through Amazon so I know they are reputable. While I still felt weird about having bugs delivered to me via UPS, I decided to go for it. It also really seemed like my only alternative.
You can order ladybugs in different amounts starting at a small pack of 1,500 which is recommended for a small garden. They were only $12.99 plus $5.50 for shipping. I figured it was worth a try. What did I have to lose?
I place my order on a Saturday and by the following Wednesday I had a little box of ladybugs at my door. They were gently packaged in kind of hard mesh, sealed pouch.
There are a few things you need to do before releasing your ladybugs. First is to provide them with water. I gently sprayed my rose bushes so they would have something to drink but not be drenched. The next step is to spray the plants in the area you are releasing them with Natures Nectar so they have some food and be more inclined to stick around. Last but not least, it's important that you release them at dusk so they don't fly away. Ladybugs don't like to fly around at night.
At dusk, I went out to my prepared rose bushes and went about releasing my new friends. I wanted to release them quite high on my bushes so they would be right at the root of the aphid problem and have some tasty morsels for breakfast.
I gently released them into my bush. I thought they would come streaming out, but they really didn't. They were really docile.
The next morning I was very curious to see if my little friends had made themselves at home. I was a bit fearful they might have left for greener pastures.
I saw my first little guy on the post before I even got on the ladder to investigate. They are cute, aren't they?
Wow, they were all over. I was so pleased to see so many of them and they looks quite busy. I sprayed a little bit of nature's nectar on the rose bush and happily started my day.
I hope they stick around at least for awhile. I really like having them around. It all depends on the food source, though. My aphid problem was not out of control or even really bad so they might eat them all up and go on their merry way. I guess that's okay. I kind of feel like I have given them their freedom. If the aphids come back, and they most likely will, I can order some more and do it again. I might let the aphid population grow a bit so I can keep the lady bugs around longer and maybe, just maybe the home they fly away to will be mine.