Ladybugs: Organic Pest Control
Ladybugs can be used for organic pest-control in the garden, eating aphids and elimating the need for pesticides.
Aphids on your roses? Spittle bugs in your perennial bed? Before you reach for those chemicals, think organic. Consider releasing a brood of ladybugs in your yard -- these favored insects are fierce predators that feed exclusively on soft-bodied, sap-sucking pests. They are available at many better garden centers and from mail-order nurseries.
Why not just spray? Today horticulturalists and environmentalists advocate integrated pest management (IPM). Methods like introducing natural predators are a positive step back toward the balance nature once maintained. When man starts spraying, the balance is upset. Both pests and predators are initially wiped out, but the food chain is upset and often large populations of another pest emerge somewhere further down the line. The non-judicious use of chemicals tends to be self-perpetuating.
When it comes to ladybugs,however, have you ever noticed how even the very squeamish will take delight in having a ladybug land on them? Way back in early childhood, we¡¦ve acquired the notion that ladybugs are ¡¥lucky.¡¦ Interestingly enough, this perception can be traced through folklore way back through the ages.
„h An old European folk tale describes how swarms of red beetles miraculously appeared in answer to farmers¡¦ prayers to the Blessed Virgin. Their fields had been under attack by a blight of aphids. The insects were named ¡¥ladybird beetles¡¦ in honor of the Virgin Mary¡¦s help to mankind.
„h The nursery rhyme ¡§Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home; your house is on fire, your children may roam,¡¨ probably originated in Europe. After the hops were harvested, the dry vines were often burned to prevent aphids from overwintering there.
„h Ladybugs are very clean insects. They wash their faces with their front legs, like a cat, after eating, and rub their back legs together briskly to clean them.
„h Ladybugs can eat hundreds of aphids in a single day. Their larvae, which hatch only five days after the eggs are laid, also consume aphids.