In the small fridge in the back room of the office, nestled behind a chocolate mocha cake, is a bag of rather subdued ladybugs. They are not a snack for hungry Green City Growers employees. No, instead of hanging out in the fridge waiting to be eaten, they are hanging out waiting to eat.
Ladybugs are one of the best biological controls for aphids, as they find this common garden pest to be particularly delectable. Aphids are small insects that suck the sap out of plants. This can stunt the plants’ growth, make the leaves curled or yellowed, and transmit viruses to the plants. Aphids also excrete a sticky liquid called honeydew on the leaves that can lead to a build-up of black sooty mold. Bad news.
A plant with aphids on it might look like this:
Last Friday, one of the gardeners, Allison, and I released ladybugs in a client’s garden in an attempt to rid the garden bed of aphids. Hopefully, this will happen:
So that’s why we have a bag of presumably slightly hungry ladybugs in the office. Why are they in the refrigerator? It helps them chill out.
Some tips on releasing ladybugs in your garden and make sure they stay: