Monday, April 28, 2014

The Ladybug Project...The Big Release!

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 I didn't go looking for them...they were under an umbrella at Pike's nursery where my daughter and I stopped to get some goodies to plant in the garden.  We hate shopping with each other.  Everywhere we go, she disappears on me and I end up waiting up front for what seems like hours.  I doesn't matter where...Costco, Home Depot, Pike's, TJ Maxx, you name it.  It could be Saks or Tiffany's .  Five minutes after we arrive and she's gone.  This time to buy a Japanese maple, unbeknownst to me, which took hours of info gathering from the tree expert at Pike's.

There I was with my violet clematis for Madame Mere's garden wall, what we had originally come to pick out.  It was hot, it was crowded, so I stopped under the red umbrella where a lady in khaki pants and a red polo shirt was giving away free ladybugs for the garden.  I love anything free, but bugs?




They came home with me, two bags with zillions of creepy little things that looked anything but the ladybug earrings and pin I had forgotten I had.  The instructions were simple.  Wait til early evening and release them where you have aphids, mites etc.  That was easy...the rose bushes! I did forget to put some water first, lest they be thirsty and fly away.  But they didn't say that in my packet, just on some Google sites.  I'm hoping mine were not thirsty and stayed.


Here's one drinking water...now why didn't I see this before!

 
There are many reasons to love Ladybugs

Ladybugs are members of the beetle family. Legend has it that the name ladybug came from European farmers, during the middle ages, who prayed to the Virgin Mary for help when their crops were being destroyed by insects. Ladybugs came and ate the harmful insects and the farmers named them "Our Lady's beetles" This eventually became ladybugs. Since the 1800's farmers have been raising ladybugs to use to control pests on their farms.


Plants that attract ladybugs


Today, you can buy ladybugs to release in your own garden to help control unwanted pests. Many people who prefer not to use chemicals in their garden look for organic methods to keep their gardens healthy and ladybugs have been a popular choice for organic pest control.





Ladybugs are most active in warm weather - from spring until fall.

 They primarily eat aphids but also prey on scale, mealybugs, and spider mites. They are ferocious eaters - eating as many as 5,000 aphids in their lifetime.


While there are over 500 species of ladybugs in the United States, and over 4500 in the world, the ladybug that Pike's recommends for your gardens is Hippodamia convergens. You can recognize this particular ladybug by the two white dashes on the back of its body. Pike's carry Tip Top Bio-Control's ladybugs. Tip Top Bio-Control is a family owned business.Their company is committed to the environment and their motto is "As mother nature had intended, Good bugs will Rule over bad bugs!"






Here in Georgia roses, particularly tea roses, need all the help they can get.  The minute they start to look good,  it's a fight against the elements.  It's as if the aphids wait until they are at their best and then wham, they pounce! I don't know who to put at the top of my enemy list, aphids or rabbits.  It's a close call.  I used to have over 50 rose bushes in Connecticut and it was an ordeal, albeit a fair one. There the enemy was the Japanese beetles and I had green ugly traps all over the garden.   Here nothing works.  Ladybugs are my last resort.  Hear that, ladybugs??

Have you ever used ladybugs in your garden? Would love to hear the results!

As I am finishing this a very significant flood and tornado watch is on for our state tomorrow.  Not only do I hope my ladybugs have found temporary shelter but that our new plantings, including two Japanese maples, survive yet another weather "event!

6 comments:

  1. Here it is this morning and I hope you and the lady bugs avoided all the bad weather headed up this way. Our weather event took a turn to the south as often they do, so we're okay this time. Every since a tornado hit our area a couple of years ago we worry when bad forecasts include our area. We have a lot of "free" lady bugs here that appear each year and they are everywhere, in the house, on the porch and they are impossible to get rid of. They stink if you crush them and no one wants them in their vacuum cleaner. However I don't believe they are the same as your good ones. And by the way, my husband disappears when we shop too. I keep threatening to call him on the phone in the grocery store...
    Sam

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    1. I have done that Sam. I don't even count the grocery store, try Costco!

      I have read about ladybugs inside the house. Supposedly, they don't mate inside, supposedly. ... Frankly I don't know much about them. This is a first. If they were thirsty, they got plenty of water last night!

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  2. Oh, I can't wait to see and hear more about this project! No, I've never had ladybugs en masse in the garden.
    Yes, the weather will be an item today and tomorrow. We're going on a bus tomorrow to Winston-Salem to museums and others and are hoping we won't be derailed!

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    1. The things we do as we get older. Ladybugs, who would have thought!

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  3. These creatures are far too beautiful to be called bugs. In England they are known as ladybirds and after living in the United States for over 20 years, I still cannot bring myself to call them anything else.

    All the best with the horrid weather.

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    1. Ah like Ladybird Johnson a former first lady, though I don't think she was named for them. I do agree, they are too pretty to be called bugs.

      We did survive, the roses, the ladybugs et al. Glad you stopped by.

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