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Releasing ladybugs in your garden


When we started my garden at my our current house my daughters and I noticed we didn’t have any ladybugs roaming around the leaves. Now I would like to think that aphids and mites feared me so much to dare to step foot in my garden, but the reality is I live in a newer neighborhood with vegetation in its early stages and with the lush forest around me it is hard to compete.

If the ladybugs will not come to your garden your only choice is bring them there yourself. I did this by purchasing some ladybugs at our local home and garden store which ours starts carrying them a little after the local last frost date. Unfortunately, I took my daughters with me when I bought a bag of 1000 lady bugs for $5.00 so no every time we go to Home Depot they need to check to see if the ladybugs are there today, guess this will be a yearly tradition. If you can’t find them locally you can always purchase live ladybugs online.

Why would I want these bugs in my garden? Well other my girls get a lot of joy searching in our garden for them they are also an awesome beneficial insect which each one can eat up to 5000 aphids/mites in their lifetime. When you decide to release them be sure to follow the directions on the package and do so at night so they don’t all fly off to the neighbor’s yard. If you have kids you might want release a 100 or so during the daytime so you can make sure you get some cute pictures like the one below.


UPDATE:
Shortly after posting this I was taking some pictures of some of my mystery bulbs coming up and noticed the lady bug below, guess my garden can actually attract a few of them on its own.

Ladybugs in the garden

The girls finally noticed the ladybugs had arrived at Home Depot, so today we had our second annual garden ladybug release. I did a bit of research and followed some advice of commenters on my previous post by spraying the garden with sugar water to give them a little extra reason to stick around after being released.

The conditions today were perfect for the release, cool, overcast evening with some light rain. Would have been advisable to wait until the sun went down for better results, but kids would probably be upset if I released them without them and pictures are worth a few escapees.




Build a ladybug house

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With a piece of cedar fence board and a few nails you can make your own ladybug house to give your army of aphid eaters I nice comfortable place to take shelter between battles

This project started with my youngest daughter (5 years old) has been asking every weekend, “Can we build something with wood?”  Finally I came up with this project which we had a great time building.

Materials

  • 1 — Cedar fence board
  • about 12 finishing nails
  • small hinge
  • 1/2-3/4 drill bit
  • paint for decorating (optional)

Build instructions

 

Step #1 – Cut the boards:  Given the cedar board should be 5-1/2 inches so the cuts should be pretty straightforward.  Cut the following pieces:

  • Front Panel — 5.5” by 5”
  • Back Panel — 5.5” by 5”
  • Bottom Panel — 5.5” by 5”
  • Top Panel — 5.5” by 4”
  • 2 X Side Panel — 5.5” by 2.5”
  • Room Separator — 5.5” by 1”

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I used a circular saw for my cuts…yes I really should invest in a chop saw or table saw so hopefully your cuts will be a little straighter but I am sure the ladybugs will not mind.

Step #2 — Nail two sides to back panel

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Step #3 — Nail front to sides and back panel

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Step #4 — Nail bottom panel to ladybug house.

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Step #5 — Drop room separator inside house.

Ladybugs are social and like to group together but sometimes thy like to live in smaller groups, this divider will give an additional area for the ladybugs to hang out.

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Step #5 — Attach top using screws and hinge

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Step #6 — Drill 3-4 holes into front and sides and decorate (optional)

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Step #7 — Hang close to your garden

Now of course the decoration part is optional unless you are a 5 year old then it is required.  Here she is carefully deciding what to paint with her marker next…

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Ladybug Release: Not a good day to be an aphid in my garden

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We normally would have already had our annual ladybug release for aphid control, though this year it has been a little colder than normal so we have to postpone until this evening.  You want to release your ladybugs at sunset since they do not like to fly at night and gives you the best odds of keeping them in your garden.

For fun and a little carnage we decided to let 20-30 out early and placed them on some plants with a few too many aphids (peas and mint)  In the picture above fortunately (or unfortunately depending how much you loathe aphids) you can’t see it but the ladybug was just having his first victim.  With many more to come that were surrounding him (or her).

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For some less gruesome pictures of ladybugs you can check out some of the photo shoots from our previous years ladybug releases

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EcoSmart Garden Insect Control Review and Giveaway

One of the major disadvantages to growing plants indoors is the lack of beneficial insects.  In a larger environment like a greenhouse you could release some ladybugs to initiate an aphid slaughter though the thought of 1500+ ladybugs investing my garage where my grow box resides does not seem like a good idea.  I am always open to trying out new products so when EcoSmart contacted me if I was interested in trying out their garden insect control products I jumped at the opportunity.

ecoSmartI explained the problems I have with pests in my indoor growing and they suggested “Garden Insect Killer” Their documentation states, “Kills and repels garden insects and mites. Kills exposed eggs, larvae and adult stages.”  This seemed to be exactly what I was looking for so once the first onset of pests arrived I applied liberally to tops and bottoms of leaves and so far the results are great.  Not only were this effective on the little buggers, given the selection of Rosemary, Peppermint, Thyme, Clove oils it actually makes the garage smell pretty nice as an added bonus.

Want to try this out for yourself the great people at EcoSmart have offered to give away a bottle of any of their products.  So under normal rules, enter a comment and a winner will randomly be selected and sent a bottle of their choice.  Comment must be submitted by Friday, December 18th 2009 at midnight (Pacific) to be considered for the drawing.  Good luck.

Little green bugs on pea plants

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It is fairly uncommon for me to see these little green bugs on my peas.  In case you didn’t guess these are pea aphids, which suck juices from the plant leaves ad spread disease between plants.  This is a rare occurrence because normally it is warmer and drier this time of year and we would have our annual ladybug release to take care of these little pests.  If the weather holds up we should have good enough weather to do the ladybug release next weekend.

In the meantime I have resorted to to using some organic pesticide solution to deter these pests until the weather gets better.  This will not stop the aphids, but hopefully slow the down a little, though when it comes to organic solutions you can not compete with ladybugs which each one can eat up to 5000 aphids/mites in their lifetime.  Come next weekend there will be an aphid massacre in the garden. [evil laugh]

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