You could say my fennel and artichokes have a bit of an aphid problem.
So I was tempted to brew up my homemade, garlic and soap natural plant-based bug spray and start squirting.
But, the fennel pollen and artichoke pollens are a haven for the honey bees right now.
Anything I spray on the aphids (especially the detergent-based sprays) affect the bees as well.
Plus, we have been enjoying rainy weather, so the spray washes off before it can do much good.
So, for the moment, the aphids are having an unmitigated orgy of gluttonous fun at my plant’s expense.
Hopefully not for long….
Because today I noticed the assassins are moving in.
My aphid problem is also a ladybird opportunity!
I love Ladybirds. And despite their picture book appearances, and gentle reputation, don’t be fooled.
Ladybirds are ruthless killers.
They’ll soon round up the neighbourhood and make a dent in my aphid problem. Ladybird larvae scoff about 50 aphids a day. Ladybirds will lay up to 1500 eggs in her lifetime! The eggs are laid on the bottom side of plant leaves. Within two to five days the larvae will hatch out and live for three weeks. I think they look like little crocodiles with orange racing stripes…
At the end of that time, they will pupate. It then takes about 4 days for them to emerge as adults. So, if you do the math, one adult Ladybird is equal to about 5000 munched aphids.
In the meantime, Mr Seven and I plan to help boost their numbers.
Last week Mr Seven and his mate approached the science teacher at school to start a “Bug Club” that meets every Friday at the science lab.
Earlier in the week, we observed a Ladybird emerging from her pupae, which was frankly pretty exciting for both of us.
How to breed your own Ladybird assassin squad.
We are planning to capture a few Ladybirds and breed them in a bug hotel, (which otherwise looks exactly like a mesh laundry hamper from IKEA) before unleashing their number into the wider garden.
I found a microscope lens that easily attaches to my phone camera at Kmart and Mr Seven has been closely following the ladybird’s progress…
Collect a few ladybirds, add lots of aphid-infested leaves for food and spots to lay eggs and a few soaked cotton balls for moisture. Then, let nature take its course!
Frankly, the breeding experiment was equally successful as letting the Ladybirds to breed al fresco.
But, it was a great opportunity for the kids to learn about insect life cycles and the role of insects in keeping a balanced garden ecosystem.
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But what about you? Do you have a Ladybird Assassin squad at your disposal? I love to hear from you, please leave a comment below.