So... I recently learnt that ladybirds are excellent natural predators for garden / veg patch pests such as aphids and greenfly.
I'm a bit wary of buying live ladybirds online because I don't want to inadvertently introduce an invasive species or some such. Besides they're effectively about £1 each and I don't know how much one should spend on something that can fly away!
Before I do this I was wondering if anyone's had any experience using ladybirds for pest control locally.
Any tips or warnings?
And any sources to suggest?
A surfeit of resident ladybirds to share?
The best way is to garden to encourage them to move in. Flowering plants like angelica and dill (ones with flat broad flowers) seem to get covered with adults as do marigolds. They lay eggs on the underside of leaves and I leave a patch of nettles which seems to fit the bill. They overwinter in hollow stems and under the eves of sheds so if you grown angelica as a food source, leave the stems after the final flowers have been cut off. Alternatively a bug hotel (the sort with short bamboo stems in it) works too.
I would be wary of buying them as if they don’t find your garden to their liking they’ll just move somewhere else!
Ah excellent tips, thank you Michael.
Good advice from Michael. I have an allotment and had plenty of ladybirds this year. Greenfly can be dealt with by water pressure or soapy water, but it's satisfying to watch the ladybirds munching them instead
I found that soapy water mixed with neem oil works but the rains keep washing it off.
Out of curiosity, where's your allotment Philip? If you don't mind sharing? The friend who told me about ladybirds has hers in Muswell Hill.
That’s really useful advice. Did anyone else go through summer seeing almost no ladybirds this year? We’ll be sure to grow some nettles
The majority of ladybirds we see these days are the harlequin ladybird. These are a highly invasive non native species who's larvae are ferocious feeders. Unfortunately this species has almost wiped out our native ladybirds and a whole lot more besides.
See this article I wrote on my website some time ago which also has an image of the different colourings. At this time of year they congregate in large numbers around window frames.:
I certainly wouldn't be buying them on the internet!