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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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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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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