Volunteer Integrated Pest Management—Ladybug Larva

We’ve got some aphid eating volunteers visiting the aquaponics greenhouse for the third year in a row. This video is of a lady bug larva on one of the lettuce leaves. They like to eat aphids and other soft bodied sap sucking insects you may find in your greenhouse. You’ve probably seen ladybugs for sale at your local nursery as part of an Integrated Pest Management program. If you’re lucky enough, they might show up for free depending on where you live! Our region near the California coast seems to be a particularly attractive place for them. The University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources says the adults typically over winter somewhere cold like in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The cool temps lower their body temperature slowing their metabolism so they can live off their body fat until it warms up. In Spring, they head west to the coastal and valley areas of California to find food and eventually lay eggs. It’s always interesting when they find the greenhouse. There is rarely a shortage of aphids inside! I wish they would stay for longer, but they usually leave after a short stay. Lady bugs are great for integrated pest management, but you should always consider that they do look for greener pastures fairly quickly. That’s why I tend not to buy them for IPM since it seems they stick around for only a short snack and then go looking for something else. That said, they’re always welcome to a feast anytime they find us. Bon appetite! Or, should I say, Bon aphidtite!

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