It’s Ladybug Time: How to Use Ladybugs for Organic Aphid Control

Ladybugs are so cute with their shiny red coats and polkadot bodies.  It’s no surprise people love to put them on kids clothing, they’re just so adorable. But you may not know that these sweet little insects are also cold-hearted killers.

Aphid killers, in particular. This time of year, when the honeydew starts to cling to cars and everything from pecan trees to crepe myrtles to pepper plants are mobbed with the tiny green sap-sucking creatures, ladybugs can be your garden’s best defense.

In particular, we use ladybugs on our serrano pepper plants. We purchase the bugs in 1,000-count mesh bags from our local organic nursery, though you can also order them through Amazon or other garden supply stores. Once received, they go directly into the refrigerator, where they can stay dormant for up to a few months, until you’re ready to use.

You want to release ladybugs in the evening, after the sun has already set.  Because the bugs use the sun to navigate, this will give them time to adapt and find their aphid feast before immediately flying off.  Spritz them with some water as they come out of the fridge, then dump them directly onto your most infected plants.

Additionally, if you happen to notice rain in your forecast it’s WONDERFUL to put the ladybugs out just before it rains. Without needing to leave to find water and/or not wanting to fly through a storm, they’ll stay close to where you release them longer, helping to get rid of tons of your pesky aphids.

I’ll usually do a full bag for a first treatment, and then followup 3-4 days later (once I no longer see any ladybugs hanging around) with half a bag as a second dose, and a final half bag dose 3-4 days after that. It’s an inexpensive and completely organic way to deal with aphids, and it’s saved many of my plants over the years.

Are you having aphid issues? Leave your questions in the comments.

Whitney