Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ladybug Luncheon!

A Luncheon for Ladybugs

Ladybugs are plentiful in Wisconsin, but reside in other states as well.  Considered by some to be a nuisance (most notably in autumn when thousands are crawling and flying about) ladybugs are quite effective at fighting garden pests.

Adult ladybugs (Coccinella septempunctata), along with immature ladybug larvae, have a voracious appetite for those evil aphids which feed upon ornamental plantings, garden crops, and greenhouse plants.  A favorite houseplant of mine, tropical hibiscus, can develop aphids, spider mites and fungus gnats… all possible edibles for ladybugs!   
These insects seem to congregate on the hibiscus buds, or on the underside of each petal. The aphids and gnats sometimes remain even after the blossom has closed.

During a recent visit to a botanical garden greenhouse, I noticed the spent hibiscus bloom shown here— covered in aphids and fungus gnats.   The hundreds of insects clinging to the underside of the petals could provide a luncheon for ladybugs… but I saw none.   
The hibiscus blooms in this greenhouse were stunning, but I felt the greenhouse needed some beneficial insects (ladybugs!) to assist with keeping undesirable insect populations in check.  

Ladybugs are always welcome in my home garden; I hope you will welcome them too!

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture