Are you surprised to see aphids on some of your plants this time of year? With the current mild temperatures in California, aphids may continue living and reproducing in some locations this winter, with female adults giving birth to live young every day.
Low to moderate numbers of aphids aren't usually damaging, but allowing them to continue reproducing on your plants may mean more aphids this spring. Once aphid populations explode in spring, their feeding can turn leaves yellow and stunt shoots on certain plants. Aphids can also produce a great deal of honeydew, a sticky byproduct of their feeding.
For information on how to manage aphids in many situations, consult the
You're probably familiar with lady beetles (aka lady bugs), common beneficial insect predators that prey on aphids and other soft-bodied insects. However, lady beetles are not the only beneficial predators that can be found in your garden and landscape.
Other “natural enemies” such as assassin bugs, minute pirate bugs, lacewings, predatory wasps, spiders, and predaceous ground beetles attack and kill pests. In some cases, both the adults and larvae are predators. It's important to recognize the different life stages of these beneficial predators so you know they are helping control pests and not attacking your plants.
Many retail nurseries and garden centers sell lady beetles for controlling aphids in gardens and landscapes. Gardeners often ask, “Does releasing lady beetles really work?
University of California research has demonstrated that lady beetle releases can effectively control aphids in a limited landscape or garden area if properly handled and applied in sufficient numbers. However, because of inadequate release rates or poor quality, lady beetles often fail to provide satisfactory control; other low toxicity aphid management practices such as hosing off or insecticidal soap or oil sprays may be more effective. Here are some things to consider if you decide to try lady beetle releases:
Most people deal with ants around their home at some point. Because most ants live outdoors, focus efforts on keeping ants from entering buildings by caulking entryways. Follow good sanitation practices to make your home less attractive to ants. Spraying ants inside the home will not prevent more ants from entering. Use baits to control the ant colony. Pesticide baits work by attracting worker ants who then take the poison back to the nest where the entire colony, including queens, can be killed. In the landscape, ants protect.../h2>
Have you ever had an infestation of mealybugs on your houseplants or outside on your landscape plants? You may have wondered, “Where did these insects come from?” Mealybugs are often introduced into landscapes and indoors from plant material brought home on other plants, tools, or pots.
What are Mealybugs?
Mealybugs are small, wingless, oval-shaped insects that congregate in large numbers on plants. They form white, cottony masses and are often confused with other pests that produce waxy coatings like cottony cushion...