Don't mind the ladybugs in the fridge

We're having a houseguest over the weekend. We pretty much never have houseguests. In fact, this might be the fourth time in 11 years that someone has slept at our house. And this time it's someone we don't know, staying at our house for an event related to Mr. Much More Patient's job.

You know how you clean your house more when someone is coming over? And even more when it's not a very close friend or family member who will understand when the place looks like it has been recently ransacked by a gang of thugs? Well, suffice to say, I'm trying to get some things cleaned up.

Which is why I will either have to release the rest of my aphid-eating machines currently residing in my refrigerator or perhaps cover the very large orange sticker that says "Live Ladybugs" before our guest arrives. Can you imagine staying at someone's house who you don't know and opening up the fridge and finding a box of ladybugs? What a great first impression.

The ladybugs are fascinating to me. I got them because I found aphids on my climbing rose ('Cancan') on the front of the house again. Last year the aphids became a real problem and I don't want them getting out of control again. I use an insecticidal soap on them, but that is pretty gross and seems like it requires a lot applications. Spraying them off with a hose never seems to work because they really get in the crevices of the new growth. Ladybugs love aphids, so I thought why not let someone else do the work.

This box has been in the fridge for a couple weeks.

I ordered 1,500 ladybugs from Hirt's through Amazon and they showed up a few days later in the mail (they aren't available through Amazon Prime unfortunately). When I saw how many were in the mesh bag and read that you can keep them in the fridge for up to five months, I thought I would release them slowly over time.

These little guys are amazing. They all seem dead when you pull them out of the fridge, but within a couple minutes they warm up and start wiggling. In five minutes they are clamoring to get out of the bag and it's actually hard to stop them from coming.

They come in this little mesh bag.

I have found them to be quite effective as a temporary measure. I release a bunch who seem to hang around for a day or so (I've been releasing them in the evening according to the directions) and 90% of the aphids appear to be gone. But days later the aphids are back and the ladybugs are not. 

The directions said that you can "encourage" them to stick around longer by spraying them with a 50-50 mix of soda and water which sticks their wings down and keeps them from flying away. This sounds little mean, but then again I hired these guys to do a job and if they won't stick around and do it willingly, well I might just have to stick their wings down. Don't worry, it's only temporary and it doesn't hurt them (well that's what the directions say; I doubt anyone asked them).

Look at those little guys do their job. And do you see all those disgusting aphids? Eat, ladybugs, eat!

I've ordered another 4,500 more ladybugs. I suspect I'm going to have to employ multiple methods to deal with this growing aphid issue (I've since found them on one of my Oso Easy roses and my climbing William Baffin in the circle garden), but I think the ladybugs definitely rank up there as the easiest and most fun method.

7 comments :

  1. I understand the obsession about cleaning prior to the arrival of visitors (particularly those who don't visit often). I have a group of friends arriving for lunch tomorrow and I've been cleaning like a madwoman - and also trying to spiff up my garden. It's exhausting - and even though I know they're not going to go home and tell their families how clean (or not) my house was, I'm driven anyway. Why do we do this to ourselves? Re the ladybugs, I'd be charmed if I found a supply in the refrigerator (but then, I'm already on record as a madwoman).

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  2. I bought some ladybugs several years ago from a locally owned nursery. I had not pruned back some lilies that were prone to have aphids which went straight to my roses They did their job, but it took awhile. I, too, want everything to look clean and fresh for quests. It is fatiguing, but I can't not do it either!

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  3. That is super cool- I don't have aphids (the caterpillers are too busy eating everything first) but i'm tempted to buy some just to have them in the garden! :)

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  4. I've never heard of buying ladybugs as pest control before - what a cool idea. I've done the nematode thing for the lawn grubs. I'll have to check my roses again for aphids so I have an excuse to get some!!

    As for your houseguest - if you don't know him too well, why is he even digging around in your fridge? Seriously though, that's a tough one to have guests over that you don't really know. I'd be cleaning out every nook and cranny "just in case".

    Hope it goes well. I've had my sister and niece here since Thursday - not much cleaning got done ahead of time with this cast on my foot. Oh well - at least it's just my sister and she understands and has been taking good care of me.

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  5. Several weeks ago I bought 2,500 ladybugs from our local nursery for the very same reason - to get the aphids off my roses. As I drove up the hill my neighbor was out in front doing yard work and I stopped to say hi. I told him I just bought thousands of ladybugs and he looked at me in horror. It turns out every year his house gets infested with ladybugs for some reason....who knew? it has never happened to us and our roses look great!

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  6. It's funny to hear "buying ladybugs" though I know it's a known form of aphid control. My parents house always gets a swarm of them in the front foyer (in the warm sunshine) in early fall. I've actually bought them a ladybug trap in hopes of controlling the bugs. Which reminds me, I should encourage them to list their house around ladybug season ;)

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  7. Fun to see our product highlighted in a story. We collect these ladybugs from the wild and then supply them to Hirt's. Glad to hear they are doing well.

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