These warm and often humid days of mid-summer bring the first signs of an unsightly pest: aphids. Aphids don’t do much damage when there’s only a few around. It takes clusters of them — and there usually are by the time they’re found — to make leaves curl and yellow as they deposit their sticky “honeydew” made from the moisture taken from the plants on stems and on the underside of leaves. If left untouched, this substance turns black with the presence of sooty mold fungus. Roses are often the victim of aphid infestations.
The more damage you have, the harder it is to control aphids because they hide inside curling leaves. Often, the presence of ants is an indicator of an aphid problem. Nasturtiums are a known aphid favorite. Think of them as an early-warning device. If you’ve previously had aphids in or around your garden, you should check them frequently. Aphids are wind-borne creatures. If your garden is large, check the upwind section most carefully.
Got bugs? At Planet Natural we offer a large selection of natural and organic pest control solutions that are guaranteed SAFE and effective. From beneficial insects to botanical sprays, we only carry the best. Also, visit our Pest Problem Solver for pest pictures, descriptions and a complete list of earth-friendly remedies.
The common ladybug or lady beetle — every school kid’s favorite insect — is a great, natural solution to aphids. It’s reported that a ladybug will eat some 50 aphids a day. If you’re lucky enough to have ladybugs in your garden, their larvae will eat their weight in aphids each day. The University of Kentucky Extension Service reports that a single ladybug will eat 5,000 aphids during its lifetime. Often ladybugs will be attracted to your garden if you have aphids. But you can help things along by introducing them — purchase ladybugs here.
Follow the directions for using ladybugs carefully so that they’ll be most effective against aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Often, multiple introductions are most effective (the fact that ladybugs can be stored in the refrigerator in a state akin to suspended animation makes this easy). Timing is everything. If you introduce ladybugs thinking you’ll prevent aphids from entering your garden, you could be in for disappointment. Ladybugs who find nothing to feed on will likely abandon a clean garden in search of food.
To keep your ladybugs around and to establish breeding colonies, it’s also important to supply them with certain blossoming herbs and flowers to provide the nectar they need for reproduction. Mint, yarrow, angelica, dill and clover are good choices but almost any shallow blossomed plant (including dandelions) will work. Ladybugs also need places to over-winter. Mulching your garden site will take care of that problem. Want more information on using ladybugs? Look here and here.
Eric Vinje founded Planet Natural with his father Wayne in 1991, originally running it as a grasshopper bait mail-order business out of a garage.
Eric is now retired, but is still a renowned gardener known for his expertise in composting, organic gardening and pest control, utilizing pesticide-free options, such as beneficial insects.
Eric believes when you do something good for the environment, the effects will benefit generations to come.
8 Responses to “Ladybugs and Aphids”
I can confirm that ladybugs are a very good solution for aphids. Aphids, it seems, are scared of ladybugs for some strange reason. I was told this by a friend last summer when my garden had been infested by aphids. I introduced the ladybugs on purpose and the results were amazing. It took just two weeks to get rid of the whole aphid population. So I would highly recommend this strange treatment to anyone who is struggling right now.
You should spray them with your garden hose. It washes most of them off, and shreds their bodies. You can also buy ladybugs in little bags at garden stores. We did that, because all of our fruit trees looked like yours and the hosing and Dr. Brommers with strained garlic concoction was not helping so much… Just made me hungry for the Olive Garden. 🙂 You spray your trees in the evening with a good spritz… then, take your ladybugs out there and let them go onto the tree. We did it with a flashlight (they use the light to see where they are going, so don’t let them out early morning…) In two days the ladybugs were double the size. We now have no aphids in the back yard, and tons of lovely ladybugs and their babies all over the trees, still… Hope they stick around for the summer. 🙂 I have also heard if you squish some of the aphids, the chemicals released should scare the aphids off… didn’t work for me, but it’s worth a try… Hope that helps.
I had a very large, old tree in my front yard LOADED with aphids. For the next two years everytime I happened along a ladybug I put it on the tree. Aphids were GONE and NEVER came back. I did have a small flower bed close to the tree so that helped sustain the ladybugs. It works!
I have a pepper plant I rescued from my garden for the winter supply. After about a month I noticed aphids. I sprayed them with soapy water, didn’t seem to do much. But I also have ladybugs in the corners of my living room. I was going to vacuum them but introduced them to my pepper plant. Will this work?
Hi Terry –
You bet it will work! However, this time of year, you might want to put some fine netting around the plant and release the ladybugs inside the netting. This will help keep them around the pest problem and prevent them from leaving. During winter months ladybugs will converge in concealed areas — wood piles, mulch, etc — and become active as temps warm.
Thank you, good idea about the netting, I have lost a couple lol. Hoping for the best.
If i started using neem oil should I continue spraying the plants once releasing the ladybugs?
Jasmine are loved by aphids too, so I’m trying ladybirds this year! That’s what they’re called in Scotland. Fingers crossed! ????