Thursday, September 23, 2010

Natural Aphid Control

Lady bug larvae and pupae.
I am happy to report that our garden is currently being overrun, not only with squash, but ladybugs!

When I first moved in, I was unaware that Lee's parents were having the local pest control fellow do routine general spraying until I noticed him poking around in the backyard earlier this year, thankfully before we had our garden planted. I put a stop to that as soon as I found out. Last year when I wasn't here, apparently there had been an infestation of fleas in Lee's backyard and the neighbor's backyard, which may have actually been caused by the spraying. Yeah, the pest control dude is good at getting rid of one thing (ants) but creating another nuisance (fleas).
Lady bug larvae and pupae amongst aphids.
What I have learned is that ants in the yard are a good thing. They eat flea eggs. Fire ants will even eat flea larvae. People just don't seem to understand, or care, that if you spray for a pest you don't just kill the pest- you kill everything, which includes the pest's natural predators. If you kill everything, you are going to end up with infestations of undesirables. I am going to get a pesticide free yard sign, or better yet make one, and hope to set a good example. Who knows, maybe it will even encourage others around here to research going pesticide-free themselves. Some people just don't know that there is another way because the use of chemicals is so commonplace or they have been socialized to believe that all bugs are nasty creatures. It's just not so!

If ants are running across your kitchen counter it can be an inconvenience, but they really aren't a threat. There are natural methods to deter them and keep them outside. Changing your attitude about bugs is a good start. Don't be so bothered by bugs unless they are biting you. Get over the eww factor, and learn to see insects as part of the fascinating world we live in. You can peacefully coexist with bugs, if you learn how. Besides, I'd rather have ants than fleas any day. Now that the spraying has ceased in our yard, I've noticed that we've got quite a super highway of ants along the back fence... but more impressive, we have no fleas!

Unfortunately the ants may also be farming aphids on our squash plants, as we have an over abundance of aphids at the moment, hence the ladybug explosion. I am going to have to do a little more observation to find out if the ants and aphids are in cohorts and whether the ants are bothering the ladybugs. The squash certainly don't seem to be hindered at all. I am just tickled that we literally have thousands of ladybugs in our backyard right now. You can find a dozen or so ladybugs or their larvae on each squash leaf. It's amazing!

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