Thursday, July 2, 2009

Attack of the Ladybugs! (I hope)

In any ecologically balanced garden, there is a need for hired thugs, er...bugs. The most fun of these, in my opinion, is the celebrated Ladybug. Who doesn't love a ladybug? Through anthropomorphism, we often give ladybugs sunny happy faces and show them in all manner of kid friendly poses on home decor, throw pillows, desk accessories, greeting cards, etc...
Ladybugs are known as "beneficial insects" and are very useful against aphids, thrips, spider mites and whiteflies. They will also eat other small, soft-bodied insects. Follow this link to see the photo of ladybugs ganging up to eat a slug. Amilia said "eeeew, what are they doing to that poor slug?!" This link will get you to a wild, aphid-devouring shiny spotted beetle of the highest degree.So far, we have shared some leaves with pests, but we have not lost any of our mature food to them. The sacrificial and companion plants have detoured other pests from our main plants. We have a healthy number of wasps helping in the balance. The chickens diligently patrol outside the garden bed fence barrier. Yesterday, we added ladybugs to the fight. Hopefully, our plants will continue to thrive, and the ladybugs will help destroy any pests we might have missed.If nothing else, they were fun to release, and fun to watch as the reluctant sun set over our fair garden. Next, I believe I am going to have to manually pollinate my summer squash. The little fruits are either suffering from blossom end rot, or inadequate pollination. I think (but I wasn't looking that closely, so will have to check again tomorrow in the light) that the problem is not at the blossom end, so fingers crossed that it is the latter.

The plant is healthy, and the squash looks healthy, until it reaches a couple of inches in length and begins to shrivel and turn leathery on the end. We have several varieties of bee bzzz bzzz bzzzing all over the lavender, but I am not certain any honeybees have made it over to the garden...

Have Q-tip and paintbrush, will travel.
Now, to get that pollen from the anther to the stigma...
Photobucket

7 comments:

Deb G said...

I've got to get some fertilizer on my squash. They aren't growing very well yet. On the other hand I have lots of green little tomatoes....

Lori at Jarvis House said...

Love ladybugs. I am trying to encourage the praying mantis in my garden too. The honey bees are starting to make a comeback. Last year, I worried about the shrubs and trees that have berries. something must have pollinated them, because I did get holly and other berries.

Small Footprints said...

As I was reading this post I was thinking about the idea that we tend to find certain critters lovable while we demonize others. Ladybugs are cute ... wasps aren't. In reality, they both do good jobs. Of course ... lady bugs don't bite. :)

I'm just starting to experiment with plants that ward off critters.

Wonderful post!

Small Footprints
http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com

Sarah: wife, mother, beekeeper said...

Pollinating by hand . . . I have never done this, but have wanted to try just because. I am going to have to read about it.
Our squash last year were awful.. even with the bees. This year, the bees are down at the garden (crossed fingers) I hope we get a ton. Yummy!

Storm, The Psychotic Housewife said...

That looked like it was so much fun to set the ladybugs free in the garden! :)

John's Arts & Crafts said...

Great blog & photo! New Blog on the Hx. of the Ladybug: http://historyoftheladybug.blogspot.com/

Splendid Little Stars said...

wishing you success as you balance nature. I need to get rid of scale and aphids on a large ficus plant. I have washed it with soap and water several times over the last 2 years, but this is time consuming, and ultimately does not resolve the problem. I wonder if lady bugs would do the trick. We seem to have plenty of them around here naturally, though.