- Release lady beetles at dusk or early evening. Lady beetles will fly away almost immediately if released during the heat of the day or where the sun is shining, so wait until evening to release them. Spray a fine mist of water on the plants before the release. Giving beetles a drink may keep them around longer. Place beetles at the base of plants or in the crotches of low branches. Lady beetles will crawl higher into the plant in search of aphids. Once lady beetles begin to fly, they are likely to fly a substantial distance, often outside the boundaries of your garden. Do not release lady beetles on plants that have been sprayed with insecticides as residues from most insecticides are likely to kill the beetles. However, insecticidal soaps and oils, once dry, will not leave toxic residues.
- They need a good supply of aphids. There is no point in releasing them on plants with few aphids. Lady beetles are voracious aphid feeders and an adult beetle will eat 50 or more aphids a day. The convergent lady beetle, which is the species sold for release, feeds almost entirely on aphids and will not remain on plants with low aphid populations and will not control other garden pests.
- Expect lady beetles to fly away in a few days. Even when released with care, lady beetles will fly away within a few days. Lady beetles are unlikely to lay eggs on the plants they are released on. If aphids return a week or two later, gardeners will need to release more lady beetles to help increase the local population.
Lady Beetle Care
After the weeks of snow, it is nice to get a break from the artic blast and get back to our normal milder winter! This is an excellent time to get a few things done before March. Here is a list of 7 top suggestions.
1. Go to the Flower & Garden Show (Feb. 20-24). The color and smell of the plants is beneficial to your health. Plants add oxygen to the air while their aromas can reduce stress and color is its own therapy. The landscape designs can inspire you for your plans for spring and summer projects.
2. Plant Cool season Veggies-Direct Sow. Root Veggies best done now after the full moon. Beets, Radish, Onions, Garlic, Potatoes, Parsnips and Cool Season- Spinach, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Swiss Chard and Kale.
3. Prune and Tidy Evergreen Perennials- Hellebores, Heuchera and Blooming Seasonal plants- Violas, Pansies, Primroses- that may need deadheading or damaged/old leaves removed.
4. Add a pair of Camellias or other evergreen shrub or Conifers for containers near entry way outside of your front door. Use cool season color- Violas, Pansies, Heather, Primroses and Ground Covers to trail- Vinca, Wire Vine, Lonicera or Heucherella.
5. Get Your Spring Seeds, Bare Root Fruits & Sets Now. Ed Hume Seeds are local to the PNW and are non-GMO, have a great price point and selection. Order seeds online or explore “seed libraries” or seed sharing programs for heirloom or hard to find plants. Bare Root Fruit Trees and Berry plants may be available this time of the year but must be planted right away (they have no soil). Garlic, Onions and Potatoes bulb sets can also be planted now.
6. Prune Fruit Trees. Selectively prune others. Wait until March to prune Roses and other summer bloomers.
7. Houseplant Care. Repot houseplants that are root bound. Check others for insects and disease. Water those that need it, add organic liquid fertilizer to soil or liquid with water.
If you need help understanding your landscape and garden, take one of our classes or stop in for help!