Ladybugs vs. Aphids - need advice

botanybabeMay 13, 2006

Hello everyone,

I usually hang out in the hosta area, but I have a bug problem and I'd like an organic solution.

I have both whitefly and aphids on my Niobe clematis. This clematis is 9 years old, a reliable bloomer and looks great. This year the bugs set in just as it began blooming. I have a lot of yellow-spotted leaves and nearly every leaf has some little transparent/yellowish eggs on the underside.

I also noticed a few ladybugs and quite a few ladybug instars and larvae feeding on the aphids. My first inclination is to just leave everything alone and hope the ladybugs and their larvae will take care of the problem. However, the ladybugs are greatly outnumbered.

I'm wondering the following things:

1. What do ladybug eggs look like? Should I expect more instars from the eggs, or more aphids?

2. Do ladybugs eat whiteflies as well as aphids?

3. Should I go ahead and use insecticidal soap? Will it hurt the ladybugs?

As you can see, I need advice. I absolutely will not use poisons, so let's not go there. Any other suggestions you may have, I'll appreciate very much.



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
username_5(banned for no reason)

Ladybugs are great, but they aren't enough to do every job in every case.

Insecticidal soap will work, but you have to apply it to every part of the plant and it only works as long as it is wet, so reapplying once a week or so until the pests are gone is necessary.

Neem oil is also effective and has more residual effect, but should still be applied once per week until the problem is gone.

Insecticidal soap is said by some sources to kill ladybugs if they are sprayed with it and other sources say it doesn't harm them.

Most sources agree that *in theory* the neem products shouldn't affect ladybugs, but there is no guarantee. In both cases the potential adverse affects to ladybugs is during and very shortly after application, not a residual affect.

Have you tried just blasting the plant with a water stream? If not you might want to try that route. You can repeat as often as you like/need. Pay particular attention to leaf undersides.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 3:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
squeeze(z8 BC)

yes, aphids can be blown away with the hose - the problem will be that most likely those aphids were carried there by ants that are 'milking' them for the honeydew they create, so will be replaced by the same ants - an ongoing struggle usually, unless you can get rid of the ants at the same time - I wouldn't use anything other than the water jet if there are ladybugs working in the area, they're way too valuable to be soaping them down!! and they do eat a lot
"Lady beetles, both adults and larvae, are known primarily as predators of aphids (plant lice), but they prey also on many other pests such as soft-scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites and eggs of the Colorado Potato Beetle and European Corn Borer. A few feed on plant and pollen mildews. One larva will eat about 400 medium-size aphids during its development to the pupal stage. An adult will eat about 300 medium-size aphids before it lays eggs. About three to ten aphids are eaten for each egg the beetle lays. More than 5,000 aphids may be eaten by a single adult in its lifetime. The lady beetle's huge appetite and reproductive capacity often allow it to rapidly clean out its prey."


Here is a link that might be useful: about ladybugs with egg picture

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 12:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The simplest, easiest way to remove aphids from your plants is with a sharp water stream, and it does not have to be from a hose since a spray bottle with water in it works quite well. This spray will not harm the lady beetles since it only knocks what you aim at off the plant, however since several generations of aphids will be present by the time you notice them you will need to repeat spray fairly often. Insecticidal soap is a broad spectrum poison that will kill any insect it contacts, so due care in its use is necessary. However, insecticidal soap has no residual action once dry it has no affect except maybe to the plant although I have not seen this on any of my plants.
Whiteflies can be controlled with yellow sticky traps, something colored yellow and smeared with something sticky placed in the area where the adults fly about.The larva, usually found on the undersides of leaves, can be controlled with insectidal soap when used with due care, a garilc oil spray, or by encouraging parasitic wasps and predatory beetles to take up residence, and mostly that means not spraying with anytihng that would kill these wee beneficial insects.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 7:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I would not use any oils or soaps to control aphids. I have been successful with compost and corn meal scattered under the canopy of each plant, but I cannot say I've heard of anyone else having that success. But I can say that aphids are definitely controlled by the plant itself. If the plant and roots are healthy, the plant will resist aphids. I had this proved to me in a greenhouse with three plants. All three canopies were touching; each plant had different soil. The only plant with any aphids was the one with straight Wal-Mart generic soil. The other two plants had the same Wal-Mart soil with compost and other organic amendments.

You could also try spraying the plant leaves and stems with diluted kelp meal or liquid seaweed every 2 weeks. The protein in the seaweed feeds the invisible microbes living on the surface of the plant. Those microbes either protect the plant directly or they stimulate the plant to protect itself. If that works for you, you could try using milk at the same dilution (3 ounces per gallon of water). Milk is easier to get and cheaper. Whether it works?..I haven't seen anyone try it, but the theory is the same. Milk is a great liquid source of protein.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 9:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 10:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
little_minnie(zone 4a)

I agree with the water spray. The plants have called in the lady bugs and now they will continue to make babies. Believe me I have experience with seeing this! So spray water on the aphids but do not use any pesticide because it will kill the lady bugs. Last year when I uncovered my peps and eggs the aphids were bad. I sprayed with water real hard and 3 days later lady bug larvae was everywhere! They took care of the problem.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 9:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

squeeze - excellent link. We have been wondering what the pink colored bug was and now know it is a beneficial. Fantastic!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2013 at 11:27AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Papaya Trees
I'm getting ready to plant a few papaya trees in my...
Espoma Organic Tomato Tone - Truly Organic ?
Can anyone tell me if Espoma Organic Tomato Tone is...
trustworthy organic fertilizer
Is Espoma truly an organic product company?
Linda Ziegler
Got tomatoes?
The organic Earthbox tomatoes have been coming in nicely...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™