Control Aphids – Ladybugs

Q: My wife wants to control aphids. Are we allowed to import ladybugs from out of state?

A: Ladybugs and their larvae are excellent aphid predators! Insects sold at local nurseries have been collected on the West Coast and held in coolers until sold. It’s important to examine a package of purchased ladybugs to be sure they all seem alive. Hold them in a cool spot indoors until you release them at dusk. Lightly mist a plant that has aphids and scatter the ladybugs at the base of the plant. Next day, some ladybugs will remain and others will disperse into your neighborhood, looking for more aphid meals. If things go as planned, you’ll see half-inch long, orange and black “alligators” on the plant in a few days. These baby ladybugs are voracious aphid eaters. You can attract a wide variety of other beneficial insects by planting alyssum, dill, bronze fennel, yarrow and carrots in your garden. Allow them all to flower freely, since their nectar is attractive to ladybugs. Another strategy is to wash the aphids off plants with a blast of water, making them prey for ground beetles.

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