Need ladybugs NOW!

milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)March 8, 2010

I overwintered a few peppers and of course their aphids as well. I kept them under control for quite a while, but now the aphids are going crazy with my new pepper sprouts. I tried to get rid of them at the cost of several new, delicate sprouts, and so now I think I must get some ladybugs. I don't need 1000 of them, and most places won't ship to Colorado this time of year.

Does anyone know where I can get some ladybugs locally now, or does anyone want to share an order in the Denver Metro area if I can find someone to ship?

I've tried soap and that didn't work. I went to Sevin, and that isn't working either, mostly because I can't cover every surface on the older plants and it stunts the seedlings. My new sprouts are attacked even before they're completely popped out of their seed head.

Any other advice???

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david52 Zone 6

I always get aphids on my peppers. I use that Safer soap - available at the nurseries, diluted to their recommended rate, and spray the heck out of them in the evening so there is no sunlight effect. When they get a bit older, then I use my fingers to make sure that the stuff gets all over the plant.

You can burn them that way, but if you wait a half hour and mist them with water to rinse it off, then the carnage goes way down.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 8:44PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi MileHigh,

So youre still keeping the old plants? If so, try starting your seedlings in a completely different room until they get going to at least give them a running start.

This wouldnÂt work with barely germinated seedlings, but once they have a few sets of true leaves you can fill a bowl or pot with tepid water, add a squirt of Palmolive green dishwashing soap, stir it well, and then hold something over the top of the soil in the pot, invert the pot, and immerse the entire plant (up to the soil) in the soapy water. Leave it dry out of the sun and you should be okÂfor a while at least. If youÂre worried about leaving the soap on the plant, wait a couple hours and rinse it off with the sprayer in the sink. It can be hard to effectively keep the soil from falling out, but the benefit of doing it this way is that ALL surfaces are completely covered with the solution. To keep the soil in the pot you can pack newspaper or tissue paper on top of the soil, put a layer of plastic or plastic wrap over it, and just hold it tightly in with your fingers while you invert it. If the soil is fairly wet, it makes it easier. If you still have the old plants, they may be too big to try this or it might work in a bucket or a sink depending on the size they are. IÂve done this effectively for both aphids and mites a few times, tho I often just decide itÂs not worth it and throw out the plants. Just depends on how badly I want to keep them. If there are actually peppers on the old plants, I donÂt think theyÂd be hurt (just a little bit cleaner!), but if there are flowers, I double that theyÂd be "pollinatable" after being dipped in the soap solution.

IÂd be really surprised if you found anywhere to buy live ladybugs this early. I donÂt think anybody is gonna want to ship them because if they freeze enough that theyÂre dead when you get them, youÂre probably gonna expect them to be replaced, and the people who sell them arenÂt gonna want to do that, so I doubt that anybody will agree to ship them to Colorado yet. Not positive about that. PaulinoÂs says they carry them from April to JulyÂdonÂt know when in April, and, again, it might depend on when the suppliers are willing to start shipping them. But it sounds like your infestation might be bad enough that you couldnÂt count on the ladybugs alone to get rid of the aphids anyway.

I agree with David that the Safer Soap would help, but the problem, as he says, is that itÂs really hard to cover the whole thing when youÂre spraying. If you can cover it well enough, Palmolive soap water sprayed on works too. Getting under the leaves and covering especially all the new growth is essentialÂand youÂd probably need to do it several weeks in a row since there could be more eggs hatching even if you seem to kill all the obvious aphids. (The dipping procedure might need to be repeated too if there are a lot of aphids, especially on the old plants if you decide to do it with them, but shouldn't need to be repeated as much as the spraying.)

Good luck! ItÂs frustrating when things that are SO tiny can do SO much damage!


    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 10:29PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I ended up ordering 300 ladybugs from The shipping was astronomical compared to the ladybugs, but at least my seedlings are being cleaned off now. Next year I will do everything possible to clean off my peppers before I bring them in. I'll trim all the leaves, even if it kills me, and scrub off the stems. I have certainly learned my lesson.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 8:39PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Well it's a little bit late for you, MileHigh, but if anybody else is looking for them this early, I noticed when I was over to Paulino's a couple days ago that they already have ladybugs in stock! Didn't stop to look at the price or anything, but at least there's no shipping--and you can get them in small (individual package) quantities.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 9:02PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Skybird, thanks for the tip. Of the 300 ladybugs I got, there's only about 10 left. I always thought that they tended to fly away right away, but in reality they seem to only live a few days. I always thought they were horny little buggers, mating ASAP! It's no wonder if they only live a few days as adults. So I might head out to Paulino's and get some more, as I still have loads of aphids and I don't know if I can wait until the next generation hatches.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 11:53AM
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