Ladybugs prefer to eat aphids and
will devour up to 50 a day, but they will also attack scale, mealy bugs, boll worm, leaf
hopper, and corn ear worm. They dine only on insects and do not harm vegetation in any
Ladybugs should always be released after sundown since they only
fly in the daytime. During the night, they will search the area for food and stay as long
as there is food for them to eat. The more they eat, the more eggs they lat and the more
insect-eating larvae you will have. It is best if the area has been recently watered.
Ladybugs tend to crawl up and toward light. So release them in small groups at the base of
plants and shrubs that have aphids or other insects, and in the lower parts of trees.
Ladybugs may be kept in a refrigerator after they are received
(35-40E F) and released as needed. Ladybugs received March through May should not be
stored more than 2 to 3 days since their body fat has been depleted. From June on, they
may be stored 2 or 3 months.
It is normal for there to be several
dead Ladybugs in the container, especially those received from March through May. These
bugs have reached the end of their life cycle.
Ladybugs mate in the Spring and lay yellow
eggs in cluster of 10 to 50 on the underside of leaves. About five days later the larvae
emerge and will eat about 400 aphids during their 2 ½ week cycle. The larvae look like
tiny black caterpillars with orange spots but do not eat vegetation.
The larvae then pupate and emerge from their cocoon as adults after about a week. They
begin feeding on aphids, other insects, and pollen to build up their body fat. In the
summer and fall the ladybugs migrate into the mountains and during the winter they lie
dormant under the snow. In the early Spring they fly back down to the lowlands to resume
searching for food in earnest. They begin mating, lay eggs and die.
Praying Mantids eat a wide variety
of garden pests. In their younger stages they eat aphids, thrips, flies & maggots,
small caterpillars, leafhoppers, white grubs and other soft-bodied insects. Mature Mantids
feed on larger caterpillars, earwigs, chinch bugs, sow bugs, beetles, grasshoppers and
other large insects.
Put the egg case in a bush, hedge, limb, or
anything more than two feet above the ground. The egg case may be inserted in the fork of
a branch of hung with a piece of string or needle and thread run through the outside edge
of the case. Hanging will help keep birds and rodents from eating the eggs in the case. If
ants are in the area oiling the string will help keep them away.
They hatch in the spring when the weather
warms, the warmer the temperature, the sooner they hatch. Unlike most insects, the Mantids
do not hatch as larvae, they emerge a miniature adults, about half an inch long. They will
grow through the Spring and Summer until they reach a length of 5-6", shedding their
skins several times. Although Mantids have wings, they do not use them until the Fall when
the females wings develop and she begins flying around looking for males to mate with.
After mating, she eats the head off the male, which helps to nourish her eggs. She then
attaches the brown foam to a branch, lays her eggs inside and dies shortly afterward. The
eggs are protected from the winter cold in the foam and the cycle begins again in the
When the eggs hatch the egg
case does not change in appearance except for what looks like a little sawdust hanging
from the seam. Since the mantids do not move much and blend easily with their
surroundings, it is easy to miss the hatching.
While most insects are constantly searching for food, Mantids are content to stay in
one area and wait for their food to walk by and then grab it with their strong forelegs.
This is why they are good to use early in the season, before there are pest problems, and
use other insects after pests arrive.
Just as important, earthworms are one of
the most effective agents for loosening and aerating the soil. Their burrows make large
passageways, lined with the earthworm castings, for roots to grow. Also, as the earthworms
burrow, they create channels which increase the capacity for the soil to hold water. In
soil where earthworms have been introduced, there is less run-off of water. Worm castings,
increased aeration of the soil, and increased capacity to hold water by the soil will
result in increased plant production and growth.
Earthworms, as they cultivate and feed, swallow great quantities
of soil, digest it, extract its food value and expel the residue as worm castings - these
worm castings are 5 times richer in the nutrients necessary for maximum plant growth and
production, than the top 6" of top soil.
Increased earthworm population and richer, more productive soil are cause and effect.
One cannot exist without the other. When the soil around trees, bushes, plants or in the
garden or other growing areas is impregnated with earthworms or earthworm spawn, it should
be also fertilized regularly with organic matter so the earthworms may thrive, multiply
and perform their own important special functions in soil building and the promotion of