Friday, July 29, 2011

Aphid Invasion

My milkweed plant is covered with yellow aphids! Looking at the plant makes my skin crawl.

Every flower cluster on every stem is swarming with yellow aphids!

I didn't want to spray the milkweed with a pesticide because its a host plant for the Monarch caterpillar. The solution had to be non-chemical......ladybugs!

Ladybugs love to eat yellow aphids. I already had a handful of ladybugs living in my garden but they were out numbered and needed help. I got online and ordered 750 ladybugs from a supplier in California. 750 ladybugs seems like a ton of bugs but its really not.....that was the smallest amount you could purchase. The largest amount was 5000!

Tuesday I ordered my ladybugs and by Thursday afternoon they were at my house. It only cost $14 for my 750 ladybugs with free priority mail shipping!

The ladybugs came in cardboard box with a small plastic tupperware container that housed the ladybugs. There was a mesh screen on top for air flow.

If you are interested in buying ladybugs, you have to store them in the refridgerator until last evening or early morning. My bugs stayed in the fridge all night until I released them at 6AM. Before releasing them, mist the shrub that you want to inhabit. They will need a drink of water before eating any insects. Open the container at the base of the plant and the ladybugs will climb up!

The plastic container had straw for the ladybugs and I dumped that out at the base of the milkweed and watched them go!

I checked the progress of the ladybugs at 9AM and they had reached the top portions of my milkweed and were eating yellow aphids! They probably feel like they are at an "all you can eat" buffet!


  1. Good job! I've had the exact same thing happen to my Butterfly weeds. I had a number of ladybugs show up a few days later, but I have to admit it was painful waiting for the local help to arrive. I think I would have done the same thing if in your shoes and ordered bugs. I knew about the 'cool them down' rule, but not about spraying the plant with water first. That makes so much sense. I hope they stay around and feast all over your garden.
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston :-)

  2. Good tips. I had no idea you had to store them in the fridge before releasing them:) We have aphids once in awhile and very few ladybugs in Tucson:( Chris Las Aventuras

  3. Good to see your ladybugs at work. I have had these aphids in the past on my milkweed but never as many as your photo shows.

    Always Growing

  4. Hi Mary. Thanks for stopping by my place in the World of Blog today. My milkweed looked like yours a couple of months ago, but the aphids are gone now. I guess it got too hot and dry for them.
    Sometimes I can control the aphids by squirting them off the plants with a strong blast of water from the hose. It usually takes a few times to start getting some control.

  5. That is a great post on lady bug purchasing. I haven't done this yet but you make it seem easy. I hope the lady bugs got those aphids!

  6. Oh my goodness! You are my new gardening hero! That is just the coolest things ever . . . buying Lady Bugs to eat the aphids! BW