Besides taking care of plants by providing their growing conditions, we also have to remember about pest control. One of the most common garden pests is aphids. Gardeners usually release ladybugs to help them kill aphids. But, the question is, do ladybugs eat aphids?
Furthermore, gardeners are often overwhelmed by these pests because they make their plants grow stunted with curly leaves and weak structures. In addition, they produce sticky residue that stimulates fungal growth in plants. By releasing lady beetles, gardeners hope they will help them control aphids.
We will discuss and reveal more about how to remove aphids? Do ladybugs eat aphids? And also tips and tricks to make them stay longer in your garden. So, bear with us and kindly read this article to the end.
Table of Contents
- Where Do Aphids Come From?
- Where To Look For Aphids?
- How To Eliminate Aphids From Your Garden?
- How To Control Aphids In Your Garden With Ladybugs?
- Tips To Keep Ladybugs Stay In Your Garden
Where Do Aphids Come From?
Before discussing “do ladybugs eat aphids?” let us introduce you to this pest. Aphids or Aphidoidea is a type of sap-sucking insect that is very small, about 1-7 mm. They generally have black and green colors, thus known as blackflies or greenflies.
However, some other species show pink, yellow, white, and mottled bodies.
In addition, aphids are the basis of many food chains. Therefore, they have many predators, one of which is ladybugs. In addition to ladybugs, parasitoid wasps, lacewing larvae, predatory midges, hoverfly larvae, and ladybirds are also aphid predators.
Well, where do aphids come from? The life cycle of aphids starts in spring when they lay eggs on the plant as a primary host. Those eggs may attach to the leaves or the stems above the root lines before hatching and then fall to the ground. Then, those baby aphids will perforate the soil, creating scars on the roots, which lead to the vulnerability of plants to fungi and diseases.
Furthermore, the season most vulnerable to aphids is late spring, where the temperature is warm but not too hot, reaching about 65-80’F. Usually, in this season, aphids attack young plants because their structures are still tender.
It is very detrimental considering that young plants are more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Where To Look For Aphids?
After getting to know a bit about aphids, let’s talk about where to look for aphids. Aphids love to live in both winter and summer plants, for example, apple, potatoes, plum, rose, aster-family plants, and tomatoes.
They also inhabit trees, bushes, and shrubs, particularly their leaves, leaving the plants with curled foliage. Besides the leaves, ensure you check out under the flower petals, as aphids can live on those spots too.
Moreover, aphids prefer to eat soft parts of the plants, such as fruits, tender branches, and buds. Hence, if you have vegetables with soft stems, you better watch out for aphid populations in them!
How To Eliminate Aphids From Your Garden?
There are many ways to repel aphids from invading your garden. Some people prefer natural methods since they are more environmentally friendly and easy, like releasing their enemies.
On the other hand, others prefer quicker and more effective ones, such as spraying with organic insecticidal soaps or using pesticides. Here, we would like to tell each method that may suit you best to eliminate aphids.
1. Nourish And Check On Your Plants
Like humans, healthy plants will be more resistant to viruses and pests when well-nourished. Hence, providing adequate nutrition to your plants is crucial. You can start by watering them regularly, fertilizing them if necessary, and pruning them when the plants grow too fast.
In addition, thorough early checking on pests on parts that are vulnerable, such as leaves, flowers, stems, and fruits, is also necessary so that when there are signs of pests, you can quickly notice and take appropriate preventive measures.
2. Grow Companion Plants
Companion plants have long been a natural alternative to deter aphids. Generally, these plants lure aphids because they are an attractive food source. In addition, some companion plants, such as catnip and marigolds, act as repellants because the flowers have an odor that aphids do not like.
Hence, growing these companion plants will be a great way to stay your garden away from aphids. You only need to know what kind of companion plants will be the best for your garden.
3. Spray Organic Insecticidal Soap
It is one of the simplest ways to remove aphids from your plants. The insecticidal soap contains fatty acids that can disrupt the permeability of the cell membranes of aphids. It also dissolves the insect exoskeletons that cause dehydration, ultimately killing aphids.
Furthermore, this method requires patience because it must be reapplied 2-3 days for two weeks. To make the spray, you will need to dilute organic insecticidal soap with water before spraying the plants to lower the concentration.
4. Use Yellow Sticky Traps
A yellow sticky trap is a popular method for eliminating plant pests, including aphids, which use a bright yellow color to attract insects. When insects stick to paper, a strong adhesive glue traps them so they cannot move or fly.
Moreover, install 1-2 traps for every 50-100 square meters of the area to effectively trap as many aphids as possible. Besides aphids, you can also get rid of whiteflies and leafminer adults.
5. Release Natural Predators
Since aphids have an early position in many food chains, they face numerous predators threatening their life, including ladybugs that are voracious aphid feeders. You can employ ladybugs or release lady beetles in your garden to help control this culprit.
And so, it answered the question “do ladybugs eat aphids?”
It is a YES! Besides ladybugs, birds and green lacewings are also natural predators of aphids.
However, the weakness of this method is that the duration is relatively short because the predator will mostly fly away 48 hours after release. But, don’t worry! We will discuss this method further in the next segment on “do ladybugs eat aphids?” and how to make them stay in your garden.
How To Control Aphids In Your Garden With Ladybugs?
Continuing from the previous discussion, you can control aphids with ladybugs. But how does it work? Ladybugs are natural predators of aphids. Hence, releasing them will benefit gardeners because it can ease their work in eradicating these plant pests.
Moreover, there are ideal times to release lady beetles in your garden, namely dusk and early morning, because the air temperature is still low with cool weather. If you drop them in the daylight, they will immediately fly from your garden due to bright light and warm temperatures.
Additionally, you will need around a pair of ladybugs per square foot to optimally control aphids in your garden. There is a fun fact about ladybugs that amazes us! One hungry ladybug can gobble up 50 aphids per day! In addition to aphids, ladybugs eat mites, white flies, and scale insects too.
Tips To Keep Ladybugs Stay In Your Garden
Since ladybugs only linger in your garden for up to 48 hours after release, we need to find a way to keep ladybugs staying longer in your garden. And how to do that? Find out in our tips below!
1. Providing Food Sources
By providing food sources ladybugs love they will surely hang out in your garden longer. You can grow flowers in your garden to provide pollen and nectars because they also feed on them. Some of the flowering plants ladybugs prefer are geraniums, dandelions, dill, marigolds, and calendula.
2. Spray Water To Plants
Besides offering more food sources, ladybugs will appreciate you if you spray water on the plants prior to release for them to drink. In addition, the water will keep your plants fresh!
3. Release Ladybugs In The Right Time And Place
As we mentioned, the best time to drop ladybugs is dusk or early morning when the temperatures are low. Additionally, you have to consider the place of release. The more food sources are there, the better the area is for ladybugs to stay.
Moreover, a garden with proper shade is preferable for them to take shelter on a hot sunny day.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Do ladybugs get rid of aphids?
Yes. Ladybugs get rid of aphids by eating them. However, this method is temporary because most ladybugs will fly away 48 hours after release from your garden.
Do ladybugs eat anything other than aphids?
Not only do ladybugs eat aphids, but they also eat other pests, such as mites, white flies, mealy bugs, leafhoppers, and scales.
Besides the adults, ladybugs also eat their eggs and larvae, preventing them from reproducing and destroying your plants.
How many aphids can a ladybug eat per day?
An adult and hungry ladybug can eat at least 50 aphids per day. Another source said that it could reach up to 1,000 aphids per day. Meanwhile, they can devour around 5,000 aphids throughout their life cycle.
Will ladybugs harm my plants?
Ladybugs will not harm your plants. Instead, they will feast on the pests like aphids, mealybugs, mites, white flies, scales, and leafhoppers.
In addition, ladybugs fall in the family of beneficial insects that will help your plants to pollinate since they look for pollen to consume. Once they fly to other plants, the pollen in their body will fall and, hopefully, stimulate pollination.
Do ladybugs eat aphids’ eggs?
Ladybugs eat insect eggs, like spider mites eggs. However, they do not seem like the aphid eggs to consume.
How many ladybugs control aphids?
You will need two ladybugs per square foot to decrease aphid infestation in your garden. Release ladybugs at dusk or early evening so that they stay a little bit longer.