...the ladybugs, that is! As part of my organic gardening program, I have been researching ways to keep pests away, naturally. One of the peskiest pests to any gardener is aphids, and it just so happens that they are the snack of choice for ladybugs. Because organic gardening is becoming quite popular, the local garden center sells out of the ladybugs quickly. I had to wait almost a week for a new shipment.
The label claimed there were 2000 ladies in this packet, which could include a combination of larvae and adults. And, they are not all ladies, by the way. There are men bugs, (how else would they continue to multiply?), but they are all referred to as ladybugs, or lady beetles, or ladybird beetles. Our packet contained mostly adults, it seemed. Once I cut open the bag, they became very active, so we had to work fast. Eileen and her granddaughter came over to witness the event, which they both thought was fascinating.
The instructions say to release the bugs in the evening when it's cooler, so they will bed down on your plants for the night and not take off. It's also recommended to lightly water your plants before releasing them which serves two purposes - it stirs up any aphids that might be on the plants and it gives the bugs something to drink.
We scattered ladybugs on all four of my garden boxes, a little side garden that Neal planted, and all of our flower beds in the front yard, which include rose bushes, lavender, mint, bee balm, pansies and yarrow. It was fun to watch the bugs explore their new habitats. It is said that one ladybug can eat up to 50 aphids in a day.
I must have checked on my new beneficial bugs about 4 times before going to bed, pleased that there were so many still around. The next morning, I went out another 3-4 times and was even more pleased to see my gardens active with my new-found friends. By the afternoon, however, I could only spot a handful of them, and my heart sank. Did I not have enough aphids or nectar plants for them to feast upon? Did the heat drive them away? Did they find greener pastures across the street in my neighbor's plentiful gardens? I even went so far as to put out liquid nectar and some raisins soaked in water, which were both recommended supplements for the bugs. How dare they flee when I was making such efforts to keep them around! I guess I should be pleased that my plants weren't that infested with nasty critters, but I can't help but feel a little sad. Only time will tell if any of them make their way back to us.