Ladybugs & Aphids

A fellow gardener/blogger (Linda at Southern Rural Route) mailed me some seed packets a few months ago, one filled with rain lily seeds and another filled with milkweed seeds. They were both from her garden so it is nice to know I have a little piece of Florida right on my front porch (and, because milkweed is the food source for monarch caterpillars, I am hoping to add to the butterfly population).

I have never grown milkweed before and I didn’t do much research on it, only looking up when and where and how to plant. So when I started seeing little yellow dots on the stems of my seedlings, I figured they were part of the plant. I even stared at them for minutes at a time some mornings trying to convince myself they were actually bugs, but they never moved so I assumed all was okay.

Over the weekend, I decided to take a really good look at them from a different perspective: my camera’s super close-up lens. And yes, those things have legs! They are yellow aphids (or Oleander aphids) and are definitely not part of the plant. Silly me – always trust your instincts. Or at least Google.

Oleander aphids on milkweed

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Don’t they kind of remind you of the minions from Disney’s “Despicable Me”?

After researching a little more on aphids (gee, you think I would have done this last month), I learned that ladybugs are the aphid’s natural predator. I couldn’t adopt that gorgeous little schnauzer at PetSmart this weekend, so Monday morning I decided to adopt approximately two thousand ladybugs.

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ladybugs attacking the aphids

This is my favorite ladybug shot because of that little guy hanging halfway off the stem and waving his arms around like it’s Spring Break. Woooo!

It was overcast enough that the gardeners at my local nursery said I wouldn’t have to wait for dusk to release them. I’m not quite sure of the reason why and, judging by my past record, I will probably not research this either. I just did as the experts told me to do and released the ladybugs around 10am with gray skies and a cold wet chill in the air. They all seemed very excited to get out of the bag.

ladybugs on me

I scattered them all over my “problem site” (the aphids-infested milkweed seedlings) and since I had seen ladybugs in my passion flowers many times before, I decided to put quite a few of them on the vine, too, as well as on my lavender, lamb’s ear, and cockscomb. I would seriously hate to have brought home thousands of ladybugs for my benefit only to have them find something better over at the neighbor’s house.

When I put it that way, it sounds almost adulterous.

yellow ladybug on my lavender

Click here if you would like to see photographs of ladybugs on things. If I had more ladybugs and things to put them on, I could totally start a new blog to rival this one.

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10 thoughts on “Ladybugs & Aphids

  1. Lady bugs truly are a gardeners friend. I hope that they all ate their fill before flying off. Don’t be surprised if come spring you end up seeing some in your house. This time of the year in New England they are finding their way to a warm spot for the upcoming cold.

  2. You crazy girl! Goats on Things, indeed. You are too funny. Have you been looking ONLY at the pictures over at my place? I did an article entitled Save Them Peels Ma’am which was about burying dried banana peels beneath a plant with an aphid infestation. The problem with the ladybugs, especially 2000 of ’em, is that they’ll eat the very young monarch caterpillars, too. You can use your hose to spray the aphids off or prune the offending branches. I’ve decided that pruning would be good because my milkweed bush has become rangy and I wanted it bushy.

    • Ack! So the ladybugs will eat the monarch caterpillars???? Oh, gawwwd, I should really do better research! Maybe they won’t be hanging around by the time the monarchs come by this way. Banana peels, here I come.

  3. Yeah, lady bugs will eat little baby monarchs as well as a huge assortment of predators which is interesting because the milkweed they eat is supposed to make them poisonous! I love that you got 2,000 lady bugs to remedy the problem and I hope it helps to get rid of the aphids. What I would do raising monarchs is that I would get a butterfly cage and feed the caterpillars and then release them when they got out of their chrysalis. I absolutely loved raising monarchs, it is a lot of fun and very rewarding. 🙂

    • The aphids AND the ladybugs are gone. I figured they would only stick around to clean their plates (so to speak) and head elsewhere. I’m still very unsure about monarchs – not sure if they’re coming through this region soon or in the spring? I could research it but I’ve got so much else going on, plus my gulf fritillaries are still bursting out of their chrysalises!

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