Pest Control Insects
Ladybugs feast on aphids!
Ladybugs will eat over 5000 aphids and other soft-bodied pests during their 1 year life span. To keep the ladybugs in your yard or garden, release them when insect pests are present. One package of 1500 will be enough for a small garden or greenhouse. Ladybugs should be released upon arrival or stored in the refrigerator for a short time. Ladybugs are not available during a couple of weeks in May and June. We ship as soon as ordered or as soon as they are available.
PLEASE READ: Benefical insects will be shipped immediately when ordered unless prior arrangements have been made with our office. Delayed shipments are not always possible. Additional shipping charges may be applied to delayed shipments.
Not available to HI or Canada.
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Beneficial insects will be shipped immediately when ordered unless prior arrangements have been made with our office. Delayed shipments are not always possible. Additional shipping charges may be applied to delayed shipments.
Biological controls have been used for thousands of years and they should be a part of your pest control program. Beneficial insects work by attacking pest insects and thus reducing their numbers. It is important to note that total elimination of pests is not required to grow good crops; it is only necessary to reduce pests below the damage threshold for the crop being grown. When using beneficial insects, it is important to avoid disruptive chemicals. Complete instructions included with each order.
All our beneficial insects are available year-round except the Praying Mantis eggs, which are not available August through December. We recommend releasing beneficial insects outdoors from April through September, based on your local weather conditions. They may be released in your greenhouse anytime.
Sorry, not available to HI or Canada.
More Ladybug Information
After receiving your package of ladybugs, leave the bag sealed and place it in a refrigerator, or other cool place. This calms the ladybugs down from their shipping experience. Early evening is the best time to release them as this gives them all night to settle in, find food and water, and decide they have found a good home (your garden). Ladybugs will probably be thirsty from their long journey, and will appreciate moist places to drink. If necessary, sprinkle some water around first before their release. Later on, they will get most of their moisture needs from aphids and other pests.
Ladybugs like having large pest populations to eat, which helps stimulate them to mate and lay eggs. When food is harder to find, adult ladybugs may fly off, but the eggs hatch and provide further control. Both adults and larvae feed on insect pests. If desired, you can keep ladybug adults from flying away by "gluing" their wings shut, temporarily, with a sugar-water solution. Half water and half sugared pop (Coke, Pepsi, etc.) in a spray bottle works fine. Spray it right in the bag the ladybugs come in as soon as you open it. You'll easily coat most of them. After a week or so the "glue" wears off.
What do ladybug eggs and larvae look like?
Their eggs look like clusters of little orange footballs, each laid on edge. After hatching, they will look like tiny black "alligators" with orange spots. Extremely fast moving, they grow to 1/2 inch long over 2-3 weeks, and then pupate, usually on the top of the leaf, into another adult ladybug. One larvae will eat about 400 medium size aphids during its development to the pupal state. An adult ladybug may eat over 5000 aphids during its lifetime (about a year).
When not being used, ladybugs may be stored in the refrigerator, where they live off of their body fat. Keep the temperature between 35-45°F. They appear almost dead in the refrigerator, but quickly become active when warmed up.
How long can they be stored?
Usually 2-3 months, but it depends on the time of year, and some losses can be expected the longer they are stored. During early spring (March and April) they should be used somewhat sooner, as these are older ladybugs from the previous year. During May, ladybugs should be released immediately. The new ladybug crop comes in about June 1 and these young ladybugs actually seem to benefit from refrigeration 1-2 months—it simulates winter for them. Ladybugs are one of the few insects sold that are collected in the wild, rather that insectary grown, so we are dependent on their natural lifecycle. Ladybugs are sorted through before shipping, to ensure that only live ones are sent out. A small loss in shipping is normal.
In order for ladybugs to mature and lay eggs, they need nectar and pollen sources. This is normally supplied by the wide range of plants outside such as flowering plants and legumes (peas, beans, clover, alfalfa). If desired, you can substitute an artificial food if these others are lacking. This is not necessary for pest control with ladybugs, only as an aid in breeding. To make ladybug food, dilute a little honey with a small amount of water, and mix in a little brewers yeast, or bee pollen. Streak tiny amounts of this mixture on small pieces of waxed paper, and fasten them near plants. Replace every 5-6 days, or when it becomes moldy. Keep any extra food refrigerated between feedings.
Suggested release rates for ladybugs vary widely — we've seen recommendations varying from 1 gallon (72,000) for 10 acres, up to 3 gallons per acre. You can't use too many ladybugs, but remember that they do take time. They need to be released early enough in the pest cycle so that they have time to be effective. For home use, 1,000 are usually enough for one application in a small greenhouse or garden. For larger areas a quart (18,000) or gallon (72,000) may be desired. Many people store them in the refrigerator, and make regular repeat releases, perhaps weekly.
If ladybugs are used indoors or in a greenhouse, screen off any openings to prevent their escape. And of course, you'll want to avoid spraying with pesticides, both after release and for at least a month before. Soapy sprays, such as Safers are an exception — you can use them right up to the arrival of the ladybugs, and indeed the ladybugs' hard outer shell seems to protect them from soapy sprays even afterwards. Botanical pesticides (Pyrethrin, Rotenone, etc.) are ok to use up to 1 week before releasing the ladybugs.
Some people believe that ladybugs bring good luck. We hope they bring you good luck, too.