For some unknown reason, my Swiss chard is covered – no, make that enveloped – with aphids. I have fed the plants with worm castings and compost and worm tea. I have sprayed them off with a strong hose blast. I have squished the aphids with my bare fingers. I have pleaded and begged for them to go away, to no avail.
My next plan, as a last resort before pulling out the chard, would be to try laying down a layer of tin foil around the base of each plant, to reflect sunlight onto the underside of the plants, which aphids hate. I was about ready to do that when I noticed nature’s defenders had arrived.
Aphids happily devouring my chard plants
1 ladybug + several aphids = snack attack
I attempted to supplement their forces by going to the nursery to purchase more ladybugs, but they’re “not in season” right now – WHAT?! Time to order online!
A day or so later, I noticed some bright orange insect eggs on the underside of one chard leaf. A quick search on the internet confirmed what I had hoped: ladybug eggs!
Ladybug eggs are laid near a food source so the larvae will have something to eat right away. Ladybug eggs are neatly assembled in rows on end, distinguishing them from Colorado Potato Beetle eggs, which are laid in random fashion on their sides or ends.
As you may know, ladybug larvae eat vastly more than their adult counterparts – up to 400 aphids in a couple of weeks. You can find out a lot more about ladybugs and their life cycle by visiting this handy website here:
If you need help in the garden from these aphid-devouring friends, find ladybugs for sale at your local nursery, or here’s a link to get some yourself:
Plan a ladybug picnic today!
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I second Osh. They seem to have them year round. Even in Northern Cal.
OSH on Bundy – W. L.A. also has lady bugs in their indoor plant section.
Sorry to hear. Better luck this year, eh? I just found out that Armstrong Garden Center has ladybugs. I’m picking some up today. We’ll see if that, combined with Terro ant traps will save the babies.
My chard had the same trouble end of last summer. No ladybugs to save the day for mine, unfortunately.