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CULT: ladybugs

Bill Shear wrote:

>  The use of ladybugs and mantises as
>  pest control agents has been sadly oversold.  =

Or promoted without enough information on their effective use.
I think many people have unrealistic expectations because so =

little is said about the time it takes to establish a colony.  My =

ladybug colony has performed even better than I expected, but
I researched the process thoroughly before I started a release
program.  I'd have been in trouble if I'd had no information other
than the hype on the package.

My ladybugs have not only brought the aphis under control, but =

also reduced the elm beetle population at least a hundredfold
and eliminated whatever was eating the leaves off of the grapevines. =

Even the first year the ladybugs cost less than chemical control had,
and the colony is now self-sustaining. =

>  Usually the ladybugs fly away
>  home (or somewhere) as soon as they are released, and the mantises
>  disperse. =

We release BREEDERS, not FEEDERS.  It's not the imported adults
that eat the pests -- it's their offspring.   Most do fly away, but usual=
enough stick around to lay eggs.  If you don't inadvertantly destroy
those eggs they will hatch into voracious larvae.  If you let those larva=
do their thing, they will reduce the number of pests in the garden then
pupate.  If you protect the pupae, adult ladybugs will emerge to continue=

the cycle.  And you have the beginnings of a self-sustaining colony.

But it takes a COLONY, not a single release of adults.  If you don't know=

what the eggs, larvae, and pupae look like and destroy them as potentiall=
harmful -- you've broken the cycle.  While one release MAY be enough to =

establish a colony, additional releases are usually needed to help it
become self-sustaining.   A fledgling colony is up against a dense =

population of established pests and is probably encountering some
residual chemicals from earler pest control efforts.  =

We discussed the use of ladybugs at length in the early days of the
IRIS-L so I'd suggest anyone interested in using this method of pest
control check the archives.

Sharon McAllister

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