Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

May 14, 2009

Aphid Invasion -or- The ladybug buffet

We did a little work in the front yard garden this weekend past. Mothers day does require a sacrifice of time and labor after all! Mamma should be proud of her house shouldn't she? When I got to this part of the garden, one of my favorite places by the way because it's all Columbines that self seed and get bigger every year, I was cleaning up and wondering why the flowers didn't look quite right this year. So I looked a little closer.Holy Crap! Infestation! The aphids are here and they were here in force!

Now it's not uncommon for me to get some aphids. Not even uncommon to find them out in force from time to time and I deal with the problems as they arise. This was by far the earliest and most intense infestation that I've ever had though.

At first glance I found that almost all the columbines on this side of the garden were under siege. In fact, I was about to break into the organic pesticide. I rarely ever do that, but this just seemed overwhelming. Before I did that, I looked a little closer and found something incredible. An ecosystem had developed right there.

Because of the abundant food supply, the ladybugs (Yes I know they're not bugs, they're beetles. That's the name I grew up with so that's what I call em ok?) had moved in and were reproducing like rabbits. They are natural predators to the aphid, so I thought it best to let them do their work. Also, I'm willing to sacrifice a few flowers in order to foster a healthy population of these beneficial insects for the rest of the season.

In that vein I decided to remove all the flower stalks from the plants and place them in a bucket, then off to the trash. They were the most infested part of the plant so I wanted to give the beetles a head start on clearing them up. Aphids don't fly, so I'm worried about them coming back. Don't worry, there were plenty left for the bugs to feed on.

WARNING...EXPLICIT photos follow...

But seriously, I found a regular lady bug orgy going on on some of the understory branches as I was pruning them.
I kind of felt a little peeping Tom-ish for taking these, but in the interest of education I'm willing to go the extra mile for you.And this is "The act". If you closely you'll see the two bodies of the beetles protruding from under their wing covers. And kids, that is how the birds and the beetles goes.. MMMM K?Here you can see the collection of yellow egg sacks lain neatly under a leaf and Mom heading off to eat more aphids no doubt.And this ugly little guy is a larvae of the Ladybird beetle. From this phase it'll go through a pupa phase and then emerge as the lady bug that we're all familiar with. So, if you see these guys crawling around the garden, they are your friend!

In the Short term, I had to make a concession to the aphids in that I gave up my flowers for this year. I have others. The bigger point is found in the long term view however. In that perspective I've helped to foster a natural ecosystem and life cycle that will benefit me and my garden later this year.

If the problem persists, I'll go to the next step which, to me, would be to entirely cut off all green growth and let the plant try again. For now though, I'll let nature do what it does, under my supervision of course. I'll keep you posted on how this develops.

All the best.


Rabbit Hill Farm said...

Hey man my kids read this blog.... LOL!!!

Great post I am also suffering from aphid mania. One thing you taught me today is what the LB larvae look like. I'd no idea what those were out in my garden.

jimmycrackedcorn said...

Excellent pictures! Those larva might be "good" in the big picture, but they have a VERY nasty bite when they jump on a bare ankle in the yard.

Anonymous said...

Hahahahha You crack me up. Those are some awesome pics though, truly. I love witnessing those little ecosystems in the garden...great post p! Thanks for sharing! :)

Brittney said...

Great post and awesome pictures. What fun to find this thriving ecosystem in your yard. You made me laugh out loud, MMM K!

Kory said...

cue the barry white music!

great shots.

buglady said...

From what I can tell from the photos it looks like you have Adalia bipunctata, Two-spotted lady beetle. So glad to see you didn't buy ladybugs and you let mother nature do its job!

Also watch for the aphid parasites, with the number of aphids you have I am sure the parasites are there. http://www.bugladyconsulting.com/aphids.htm

Happy Gardening!
The Buglady

ChicagoMike said...


Paul, I would never have suspected. :)

Anonymous said...

I loved your pictures. I have apple trees and every year I watch the aphid/lady bug cycle. The kids and I cheer as the lady bugs overwhelm the aphids. And it happens every year.

Barb J. said...

He's not ugly (the larvae) - I love his beautiful color!

Amy said...

I didn't know those black and orange larvea were good! They freaked me out last year and I killed them when I saw them! Thanks for the good info!