by Connie Oswald Stofko
“It seems like a lot of people are battling aphids this year,” said Patti Jablonski-Dopkin, general manager of Urban Roots Cooperative Garden Market.
A great way to get rid of aphids is to let ladybugs gobble up the aphids. But what if ladybugs haven’t discovered the aphids on your plants yet? You can buy live ladybugs at Urban Roots, 428 Rhode Island St., Buffalo.
The ladybugs aren’t in stock today (Tuesday, June 8, 2021), but Jablonski-Dopkin expects a shipment later this week.
Urban Roots also sells beneficial nematodes.
Ladybugs for aphids– and more
Ladybugs are helpful in your garden because they prey on aphids. They also eat mealybugs, mites and whiteflies.
The ladybugs sold at Urban Roots are a common species native to all of North America called Hippodamia convergens or the convergent lady beetle. It is named for two short white lines on the black shoulderlike section behind the head that converge toward each other, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. The number of spots on these ladybugs ranges from just a few to up to 13, but the two short white lines are always present.
How to release ladybugs
If you don’t take the proper steps when you release the ladybugs, “they will just fly off to your neighbors’ gardens,” Jablonski-Dopkin said.
Don’t release them during the day; release them at dusk. Before you release the them, water the area around the affected plants– the ladybugs may need a drink. Release them low to the ground.
“They’ll find the water, then they’ll find the bugs they like, especially aphids,” she said. “Within a couple days, the aphids are gone.
“I do this every year by my tomatoes or anything with aphids. Using biocontrols is so much nicer than spraying anything.”
If you don’t have an issue with insects, don’t bother buying ladybugs, she added.
Should you release ladybugs inside?
Some people who have aphids on houseplants in the winter wonder if they should release ladybugs inside.
“I don’t recommend it because you could end up with a ladybug infestation in the house,” Patti Jablonski-Dopkin said.
You can also buy beneficial nematodes for various plant problems through Urban Roots. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic round worms that kill soil-dwelling insects. Each species of nematodes prefers specific prey.
To figure out if nematodes can help your particular plant problem, take photos of the affected plant with you to Urban Roots. (Don’t take the actual plant; you don’t want to spread the plant disease.)
If nematodes are what you need, you can purchase a card at Urban Roots. Then the nematodes will be mailed directly to you. You can get all the details by stopping in to Urban Roots.