01 May 2010

"the ladybugs' picnic," or "how i opened up a can of whupass on them aphids"

We have an aphid situation. The tiny suckers are pretty hard to capture, even with a good zoom lens, but here's the proof on our peppermint... the telltale spots.


I bought the organic, non-toxic Dr. Earth insect spray specifically made for fruits and vegetables, and though I know that it's mostly just cinnamon oil and garlic oil that bugs would find unpleasant, I still hate the idea of spraying anything on plants that we are going to ingest. So I needed to find another tactic.

Ladybugs.

Yes, those dainty, pretty bugs that symbolize good luck in many cultures are lean, mean aphid-chomping machines. Mealybugs too, though I have yet to see any of those (knock on wood), possibly because I wouldn't know one when I saw one. And you can buy a charming little carton of ladybugs at fine stores like Anawalt, the best hardware store in LA.


Bella checks out the ladybugs, before deciding that she is terrified of them


I was a little squeamish about unleashing the ladybugs, just because I wasn't really sure how many were in the carton, or what they'd do when I let them out. Would they turn into an angry swarm and lash out at the first person they saw, in retaliation for their imprisonment? I closed the balcony door behind me, which I never do, just in case, visions of me screaming "Run, Mark! Save yourself!" running through my head.

But, of course, ladybugs are just ladybugs, and they're relatively mellow. In fact, I kind of sprinkled them out of the carton on all of the plants as though I were salting my dinner. Salt shaker, pepper shaker, ladybug shaker.

So now we wait... how will the liberated ladybugs do at clearing our little garden of aphids? Will they decide that the balcony garden is too small potatoes for them and move on to greener pastures? Only time will tell. Until then, every little tickle I feel will make me immediately conclude that ladybugs are crawling all over me.

For now, some photo fun... (Blogger seems to make my photos fuzzy, so click on any of them to enlarge and see them in crisp detail. And Blogger, knock that off!)

P.S. It is springtime, and it appears that there is a LOT of ladybug love in the air


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