Where have all the ladybugs gone?

hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)June 5, 2008

I've been doing the organic thing for a couple of years now and I have noticed an increase in beneficials like ladybugs, pollinators etc in my garden.

Suddenly, this year, they have not returned. I know there were plenty of ladybugs overwintering in my strawberries and oregano last fall, but no sign of them this spring. No bees or wasps have been around that I have seen, where last year there were plenty visiting. I'm starting to get worried.

On top of that, it have been a wet spring and my raised beds have been overrun with literally thousands of rollie-polies which are eating any low-lying leaves they can get to including my radishes, swiss chard and even the lower branches of the tomato plants. The toms they don't do too much damage, but they have devastated the radishes, eating leaves and even the skin of the root. (I just found out the other day that radishes are a trap crop for rollie-pollies. DOH!)

Also, I pulled a couple sickly and twisted garlic from my bed to find little worms on them! After some searching, I believe they are wireworms. Then I see a picture of the adult wireworm (click beetle) and realize I saw one in my garden the other day but left it alone, not knowing what it was.

So what has happened this year that made my beneficials disappear and brought in these bad bugs that I have never had a problem with before?

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Natural cycles. An overabundance of predators leads to a crash in pests they eat which leads to a crash in predators which leads to a boon for the pests.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2008 at 9:21PM
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I too have seen an explosion in rollie pollie population and have had trouble getting beans to come up because of them. I do have ladybugs around though. The only other pests so far this year are stinkbugs on the tomatoes, but the handvac is working well on that.

Here is a link that might be useful: www.gardeninginconverse.com (my garden blog)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 4:02PM
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rubberbands(6 or 7)

long time passing.... I haven't seen many ladybugs either, but this is a first year garden and I haven't been looking much.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 8:55PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I watched 2 ladybugs have sex on my apple tree yesterday. I've seen a lot of their eggs too. They really seem to love apple trees. Last year they were all over them.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 10:03AM
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hamilton: me too. Lots of aphids though. Cause and effect? Peter.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 8:22PM
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I just read that some stinkbugs are edible, high in amino acids, fats, etc. Sometimes I wonder why I put so much effort into growing select foods when most of the weeds and some of the bugs are as, if not more, nutritious than the crops I plant! I have been hearing a lot lately about eating bugs.... If things keep going the way they are, we might end up having to do it! Imagine trying to get your kids to eat that!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 9:58PM
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There are a number of factors at work here and, I doubt, that a natural cycle is one of them. We, here in the USA, use more pesticides than any place else in the world and spraying that stuff around and killing off insects will have an affect on the numbers of insects we see. In addition to the normal controls of all insects, predators and diseases, they have us to reduce their numbers with poisons, and that can be seen in the reduction in the number of predators of these insects. Fewer birds of many species are being seen, because of loss of habitat which includes a food source.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 7:00AM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)


I was wondering about pesticide use. In this city, there is a ban on cosmetic pesticide use, but I wondered whether someone was either violating the ban, or maybe the city did some non-cosmetic spraying. I know this city had a huge problem with gypsy moths last year which makes me wonder if they decided to spray for them this year and it has affected the beneficials negatively.

I haven't been able to find anything on the city website about spraying. Either way, I still have lots of pill bugs and have seen no ladybugs.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 7:05PM
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If the spray for the Gypsy Moth was the recommended spray, "Bacillus thuringiensis - Kurstaki" it would have no affect on the Lady Bugs since that would only affect the insects that ate leaves dosed with the bacterium. However some places have used Malathion, a very broad spectrum poison, to control the Gypsy Moth and that kills other insects as well as birds. Around here they notify everyone, via the newspaper, when they will be spaying, however, while that should be the normal operating proceedure everywhere we know it is not always done.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 6:55AM
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Plenty of both here. Anecdotally to me, seems like somewhat fewer bumble-bees though.

Natural cycles definitely are a major factor in insect populations. As some of you no doubt know, parts of new england had extremely severe infestations of various caterpillar species for the past three years - not only gypsy moth but a couple others even more voracious. We had a massive tree die-off here as result of being de-foliated several years consecutively. There has been no spraying on this island of anything other than bt, and that only on ornamental and yard trees, but nevertheless the populations crashed this year and there are scarcely any caterpillars anywhere. Even the university experts say that it's impossible to know all the complex reasons behind insect population surges and crashes.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 7:04AM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

OK, I found out that they may have sprayed for gypsy moth, but they sprayed Btk (I assume that's what you were talking about)

In October 2007, Council directed staff to hire an independent consultant to assist with Gypsy Moth egg mass surveying and to analyze the data collected. The March 17, 2008 report to the Public Works Committee provides an update on the degree of infestation of Gypsy Moth in the City and provides a program delivery strategy for CouncilÂs approval to mitigate the damage to the urban forest from Gypsy Moth in the areas surveyed and to limit the spread of the infestations to other areas.

Staff prepared a report pertaining to the proposed Gypsy Moth control plan that was received by the Public Works Committee at its March 31, 2008 meeting and was approved with amendments by Hamilton City Council at its April 9, 2008 meeting.

Aerial spraying recommended

Due to the extent of Gypsy Moth infestation in the Hamilton area, aerial spraying of woodlots and parkland will be required. The City of Hamilton's Public Works Department, Hamilton Conservation Authority and the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) will be undertaking an aerial spray application of the biological pesticide Btk over areas of Ancaster, Flamborough, Dundas, Glanbrook and West Hamilton including parts of the Dundas Valley and Cootes Paradise. To be effective on Gypsy Moth larvae, two applications of the aerial spray application must take place in mid-May to early June.

Open Houses

The City of HamiltonÂs Public Works Department, Hamilton Conservation Authority and Royal Botanical Gardens held several Public Open Houses to allow members of the public to receive more information on the Gypsy Moth infestation problem in our area, the proposed control plans and what property owners can do to assist in the control of Gypsy Moth.

So I think I can rule out city spraying affecting the bugs.

Still a mystery.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 6:30PM
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