There’s a reason there are a few hundred ladybugs in a bag when you purchase them. They don’t like to stay in one area, even with a food source; some don’t survive; and some refuse to go to work, even if presented with a banquet. I think a bunch of mine had other ideas in mind. It’s always fun checking around to see where they might be hiding after being released last evening, scattered over some roses, lavender, Jerusalem sage, and particularly upon a honeysuckle smothered with aphids. For some reason, this is the mother-lode plant for aphids this spring. Perhaps it is offering to serve as the prime bait plant, so as to lure them away from other plants.
While one worker has more than enough aphids to contend with, another two have "other ideas"...
Must be the feel of real spring in the wind! Irresistible to ladybugs who have been squashed together in a mesh bag for weeks. Maybe they decided they needed to generate more troops to contend with more aphids…..hooray!
Lavender is a great place to party....without aphids. Shhh....don't ask!
In a fast move to save the lettuce seedlings being savagely eaten in an outbreak of both aphids and Cabbage White Looper caterpillars migrating from the neighboring chard and kale, an emergency evacuation took place. Thanking the plants for their extremely productive service, all kale and chard was removed, salvaging what little was decently usable as food, but discarding most directly into the waste debris containers. This is what we get for “slacking off” in observation given our really busy schedules last week, while there was a burgeoning plague. I had noticed a few tell-tale signs of building aphid populations on the kale, as well as white flies, but nothing had seemed in imminent danger. Then the Swiss chard seemed to become inundated with aphids almost overnight. Evidently, behind that were lurking newly hatched Cabbage loopers, always unseen until they wreak havoc, stripping plants to their ribs in only 1 or 2 nights. Even with eradicating the plant host-sources, and spraying Thuricide* on the lettuce, we could still lose the whole row, but hopefully not. We’ll know in a day or two.
It was also good incentive to tidy up other areas in the garden looking a bit more distressed, removing the cucumbers and ‘delicata’ squash plants, and trimming back the sprawling cherry tomatoes.
"Looking good" yet hunry pests lurk in the chard and kale. So, now you see us.....
.........Now you don't! And the lettuce seedlings are much happier.
*Thuricide is a liquid comprised of millions of spores of the bacterium Bacillis thuringiensis, which reproduce inside the gut of specific types of caterpillars, becoming fatally toxic in a very short time. This is a naturally occurring bacterium that evolved into its specific function.
Posted in Community garden, Fall, Oh..oh...., Pests of any size & species, Uncategorized
Tagged aphids, Cabbage white loopers, chard, delicata squash, kale, lettuce, tomato