Ladybirds and Lacewings, Natural Pest Control in the Garden

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Ladybirds and lacewings for natural control of aphids. An increasing number of gardeners and allotment holders are choosing not to use pesticides and grow organically. Biological pest control is totally safe, and all the predators supplied occur naturally in the UK.

Ladybird larva and adult ladybirds will seek aphids immediately. Before purchasing these beneficial insects ensure you have an aphid problem so that the larvae will survive.

An adult ladybird lays 20 to 50 eggs a day. The eggs are a yellowish, orange-like colour. The duration of the hatching normally takes 4 to 8 days depending on the climate. After the hatching, the larvae will seek aphids immediately.

Once in the fourth larval stage, the larva stops eating and pupates. During pupation, which takes approximately 8 days, the ladybird stops eating for a few days and stays inactive.

Finally, the adult beetles appear by tearing the pupal skin. During September and October they will look for a hibernation place. Ladybirds prefer outside walls, window frames or bark crevices.

Adalia bipunctata is a native ladybird which can be found all over Europe. It finds its way in a pretty extensive range of living areas and feeds on different aphid species.

The Ladybird is a regular visitor of vegetable gardens, fields and flowerbeds.

Please ensure no ants are present in the area where the ladybird larvae are going to be placed as it will severely reduce the efficiency. Insect Barrier Glue or glue bands may be used to stop ants crawling up plants and trees.

Lacewing larvae can be introduced in different fruit and vegetable crops, and ornamentals against different kinds of aphids. The larvae eat thrips, red spider mite, whitefly, small caterpillar eggs and mealy bugs.

As the larvae cannot fly, they need to be able to reach their prey; the larvae should therefore be placed near the aphids. The larvae are able to move 4-5 km before they become adults.

The advantage of using larvae is the fact that they work immediately

There are 2-3 generations per year. In spring, the adults start laying eggs (approximately 20 per day). These eggs are deposited separately or in groups on short stalks on the underside of the leaves. After 3 days, the first larval stage develops.

The third larval stage is the most important one for biological control, as it represents 80% of the total amount of food taken. The larvae are approximately 0.8 mm and eat up to 50 aphids per day.

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Author: Julie Brandreth

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