Since summer is right around the corner, flowers and plants are gracing our world with their bright colors and fresh foliage, some of which our kitchens and diets can benefit from. Our family LIVES on our deck. We eat meals out there, relax after work, let our LO play independently there, etc. It also serves as a bit of a supplemental food source in our house. Every year, we plant a variety of veggies and herbs. Something about picking fresh produce for a meal speaks to us, and having it right there on our deck makes it even better.
Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones who enjoy munching on the veggies and herbs. Aphids always seem to show up out of no where and in full force, devouring our goods before we even get a chance to harvest them. While I like to think “every creature great and small” has a purpose in this world, the aphids need to vacate our home and move on to other greener pastures. However, it is because of their reoccurring presence in our garden that we have come to love and routinely support the idea of releasing ladybugs on our plants and in our garden spaces. Ladybugs are one of those “beneficial bugs” that help protect plants from the never ending appetite of aphids and other nuisance insects. They chase after the aphids and in turn return our garden to its fruitful condition.
For the past few seasons, we have turned to the company Nature’s Good Guys. You can purchase directly from their site or search for them on Amazon. While they sell other garden helpers and share tips with best gardening practices and becoming allies with certain bugs, we have routinely purchased their ladybugs (it costs about $7 for 150 ladybugs, and they have other amounts if you have a bigger space). This family owned small business hails from the West Coast in Oregon, and their shipping is fast and reliable. Their packaging comes with helpful literature that tells you all you need to know about your new garden soldiers.
So you bought some ladybugs, now what? According to our research and the company’s instructions, it is best to release the ladybugs either in the dawn or dusk hours directly on the plants while they are not completely alert. They are alive and have minds of their own, so during your releasing party, you may spend some of your time chasing them around your deck and putting them back on the plants. While this may sound exhausting, it is actually a lot of fun especially for LOs. Our daughter is filled with so much glee and excitement every time we do this. We’ve done it a lot and the thrill of it never dulls for her or ourselves.
It also is a good idea to refrigerate them over night (or up to a week) before their release. The point of doing this is that the colder temps will slow down the bugs mobility, thus when they are released will not immediately fly away. Instead, as they begin to wake up and thaw in the sun and natural air, they will be more likely to notice the aphids and do their job.
That’s it! While eventually they may fly away and you might not have them in your garden all season long, they do exactly as nature tells them to do; and you will get to keep your plants in tact for the harvesting season.