How many ladybugs to buy?

frdnicholas(Albuquerque NM)April 23, 2012

I have about 20 fruit trees, a couple of which have been hit by aphids. I am thinking about buying some live ladybugs, but don't have any idea how many to buy. I know they only stay around if there's things for them to eat. The fruit trees are in my back yard; there is also vegetable beds and flowers. In the front yard are roses, which sometimes get aphids and a few fruit trees, none of which have the aphids at this point. I can buy 750, 2000 or more. Is there a way to get a ballpark figure on how many would be helpful? I should mention our friends across the street also have 50 or more fruit trees and they're beginning to see aphids as well.

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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

I wouldn't waste my money on buying non-native ladybugs, frdnicholas. 99% of them will simply fly away. You're better off using a blast of water to your trees, some insecticdal soap, then use Tanglefoot on the trunks to prevent ants from climbing into your trees and farming the aphids. You will need to use a barrier on your trunk such as paper wrap, or you can cut 6" wide strips of landscape barrier cloth wrapped around about 3 times then tied off in a knot, then paint on the Tanglefoot. Never apply Tangelfoot directly to the trunk, as it can heat up and damage the cambium layer in your part of the county (and mine). This is aphid season, and they are pretty easy to control in this way. Let your own native ladybugs show up to take care of the few left.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 10:33AM
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Actually, there is a trick to keeping the ladybugs on the trees you want them on.

Release them at night. They will naturally try to stay on the tree overnight, and by the time morning comes they will consider the tree they are on to be their home base.

If you let them out in the middle of the day they'll just fly away though.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 11:35AM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

I used to spray coca cola on the bugs so they couldnt fly...hehe Kinda cruel I know.

Organocide works great for aphids and is all natural. Its seed and fish oil. Also works great for cooking ;-)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 11:51AM
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frdnicholas(Albuquerque NM)

So, let's say I release them at night and they do their job. Any idea of how many would handle the amount of trees etc I've got?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 12:12PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Years ago my wife got a special deal on 1000 lady bugs for 10 dollars. She released them to get rid of some aphids on her plants on the front deck. They did work.

A few months later one of the neighbors idly remarked he'd been having a hard time keeping lady bugs out of his house and asked if we had been having any problems with lady bugs. We had to turn away to choke down our laughter. My wife has never bought any lady bugs since.

Seriously though, aphids are easy to control here. If they are curling leaves on new trees, squishing works, or insecticidal soap, 1% hort oil, or just about any insecticide.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 12:54AM
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I just plant flowers and other stuff I see them on and then overtime I see more and more of ladybugs.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 1:56AM
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