- Author: Paula Pashby
This spring, while stepping out into my garden to make some plans for the upcoming summer vegetable garden, I noticed quite a few pollinators enjoying the winter vegetable plants that had begun the process of going to seed and flower production.
I took a closer look and to my delight, I spotted a large number of Lady beetles “ladybugs” in the garden enjoying one of their favorite meals – aphids!
I have heard many Master Gardeners say that when we first spot aphids in our gardens, we should not immediately try to get rid of them unless they are causing major damage. The University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UCIPM) states that “almost every plant has one or more aphid species that occasionally feed on it, but low to moderate numbers of aphids usually aren't damaging to gardens or landscape trees”.
So let nature take its course – let the ladybugs come in and do their thing. According to UCIPM, “beneficial insects such as lady beetles and lacewings will visit plants naturally when aphids are abundant. Protect these natural enemies by avoiding the use of insecticides that can be toxic to them.”
And if you see something that looks like the little alligator, shown in the pictures below, do not fear! This is a ladybug larva, an amazing beneficial insect in the garden. Mature ladybugs can feed on up to 50 aphids per day, but their larvae can eat up to 10 times that number!
Enjoy the lady bugs' beauty and the fruit of their labor – taking care of your aphid problem!