Bugs, we can’t live with them but we can’t live without them. They are an unavoidable aspect of gardening. While we often focus on the “bad bugs” we forget there are many “good bugs” that reside in our gardens as well, some are actually necessary for the success of our fruits and veggies. Many gardeners forget that by creating a garden we are essentially laying the groundwork for a new ecosystem. Like all ecosystems if it isn’t balanced you will eventually see one or two species in abundance because they lack the predators needed to control them and they out compete all the other creatures. A good example of this is aphids. Aphids will grow rapidly if not kept in check and before you know it they will cover your roses, calendula or any number of other plants they fancy. You can try a number of pest control measures to get them under control but one of the easiest is simply adding ladybugs to your garden.
Ladybugs have increased in popularity rapidly in the past few years as more and more gardeners seek their assistance in controlling pest insects like aphids in their gardens. Some houseplant hobbyists have even taken to moving all their pest infected plants to one room or area, releasing an army of ladybugs on their indoor plants and simply leaving a window open so they can leave when they run out of food. If the thought of releasing a couple hundred ladybugs inside of your home makes you uncomfortable you’re not alone but if you have ever had a thrip or spider mite infestation you may understand why some people decide to do whatever is necessary to save their precious plant babies.
Within our multiple facebook groups we see posts on a daily basis regarding pests and members requesting help in controlling the situation. As an international community we have seen posts from monkeys, to groundhogs, all the way down to a lowly hornworm. If you have been a member of any of our groups then you are probably aware that we take respecting all life within the garden seriously. As content creators you may notice a trend towards us suggesting ethical solutions to pest problems.
So when I planted my calendula seeds I had a feeling I would eventually be writing a piece on aphids and how I get rid of them naturally. Sure enough about a month ago I noticed the first few buggers mixed in among the cornflowers, patiently waiting for the first bloom from my calendula. I don’t know why they love calendula so much but every year without fail I find at least 2 or 3 stalks covered in black aphids. Talk about a gag reflex, it’s always unsettling to go out into your flower garden to enjoy your hard work and be met with hundreds of crawling, flea sized insects piled on top of eachother all trying to sink their teeth into one of your favorite plants. Yuck!
This year… I was prepared! I had previously researched the best solution for aphids after many years of failed attempts. At the top of all my searches were our friendly neighborhood ladybugs. Now widely available for purchase either online or in the garden center they are reasonably priced and more effective than anything else I have tried.
So I ordered through a Canadian company called “The Bug Lady”. They have a variety of natural solutions for the most common pests in Canadian gardens. They ship across Canada and have good reviews. All of their products revolve around using beneficial insects to combat harmful insects as mother nature intended. Including a variety of soil mites, ladybugs and even praying mantis in late spring and summer.
I got my order the next day. 250 ladybugs right to my door, ready to be set free when the evening had cooled off from the day. The instructions were clear and the little assassins all seemed alive and well. My kids and I were very excited to let them go but we followed the instructions. In the evening after dinner I went out and watered everything really well, I misted all of the plants as well to ensure there was ample water available for the ladybugs after their journey. Once the sun was completely off the garden for the day we all went out and released them together.
My son thought it was a blast, bravely holding many a handful of them before releasing them into the garden. My 2 year old daughter was less enthused about the event, we tried to get her to hold one and she promptly lost her mind! (oops!).
By the end of it she was hovering behind my legs while I let the rest of them out in my neighbor’s garden where her roses have also had an issue with aphids.
It turned into a fun way to end the day with our little ones and teach them about how some bugs can be beneficial in the garden, safe to hold and friendly to interact with.
I also purchased some praying mantis egg cases from “The Bug Lady” which we are presently waiting to see hatch before releasing them into our garden as well. A fun Entomology lesson for the summer, so far both kids seem eagerly involved though I have a feeling the 2 year old will be less impressed when they finally hatch!
Since releasing the Ladybugs, I am excited to say we no longer have visible aphids and other small flying insects seem to be less present as well! They did a great job cleaning up the calendula and my neighbors roses! Safe to say I give these little guys a 10/10 on the product review side of things. We officially settled the mantis eggs, one outside in the garden and the second egg case in an old converted 5 gallon aquarium. We are impatiently awaiting their arrival any day now!