Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ladies in Red

We've been afflicted with aphids. Well, not us personally, but my Esperanza (Tecoma stans) and Blue Mist (Clonoclinium greggii). I've been doing the water spray and finger-rubbing thing without much effect, while I waited for the weather to warm enough for the arrival in force of ladybugs--one of nature's best aphid eaters. And I've seen one or two ladybugs in the past month, but even at an 80-aphid-a-day habit, it wasn't enough to make a dent.

At 5:00pm Friday afternoon, the temperature was 102, plenty warm...making a case for getting reinforcements.

So thanks to our friend Cathy, we received a package of Ladies in Red ( They come in a little mesh bag. The label says it holds 1/3 cup, or approximately 1,500 ladybugs, and I'm happy to report that 1,499 of them were alive and active. We thought that was probably enough, if we could just get them on to the plants before they flew away.

It's a little tricky...they rush the corner as soon as you snip it. They crawl fast and everywhere--from the mesh up your hands and arms to your shoulders and hair. It tickles, lots of tiny whisper-tickles. The more forward ladybugs fly if they're not happy where they are--and they weren't flying toward the esperanza. So Denny and I held our hands on the mesh long enough to acquire a light cover of ladybugs, which we carried down to the aphid-afflicted plant-tips. Then it required a little hand-dance to get the bugs from our skin to the leaves as the ladybugs didn't seem inclined to go green on their own. But once they found an aphid patch, they settled.

Some flew but more stayed, tucked in among the leaves. I hope they raise families, dynasties, even.

For more complete information about ladybugs, click the title to this post for a link to a University of Kentucky entomology page.

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