Aphid control

This has been a great year for aphids, round here at least. In the nesting season that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as any small insect is potentially a useful source of protein for chicks, but sometimes the birds need some help. The larvae of the green lacewing  apparently have such an appetite for aphids that you can buy them from garden suppliers (I didn’t – this is a wild lacewing!)
Green lacewing
Meanwhile, there are other aphid predators, notably ladybirds (ladybugs) both as adults and as larvae: here’s an indigenous 7-spot:
Trouble is, they are in danger of being replaced by the grey squirrel of ladybirds, the Harlequin:
a.k.a. Multicoloured Asian Ladybird (more info at Harlequin Ladybird Survey), so if you see the larvae of these, I recommend you squish them (maybe take a photo first!) – here’s what they look like:
The wrong sort of larva


5 Responses to “Aphid control”

  1. I’d love to get lacewings in our garden. There is a real aphid plague right now, yesterday in fact, while I was gardening I got covered in the winged sort which bodes ill for our beans. We do get ladybirds, but sadly the ants do an efficient job of turfing them off the plants to protect the honey dew secreting aphids. It’s an amazing thing to watch, they just team up, pick up the ladybird and chuck it.

    Haven’t seen a harlequin yet thank goodness but I have heard that they’ve been found nearby…ack!

  2. PS:- gutted to report that our garden is riddled with harlequins, their larvae and pupae. Sigh. But apparently my neightbourhood has been full of them for years 😦

  3. I’ve seen these larvae before and wondered what it was. Did you use any organic insect sprays for the aphids? I was searching online and found Safer Brand’s Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer. Have you heard of it? It targets a bunch of different bugs and is certified organic.

    • Hi Greg, thanks for your comment. Since I’m more interested in the wildlife than the garden plants, I don’t use any pesticides at all, and just rely on naturally-occurring controls like ladybirds, hoverfly and lacewing larvae and birds. Seems to do the job, but I may have a higher-than-average tolerance of pest species like weevils and aphids!

    • My Arctic lupins (planted from wild seed) were swarming with aphids, so I sprayed them with an insecticidal soap (potassium salts of fatty acids), which seemed to kill them. A few days later I noticed a bunch of hoverfly larvae and a lacewing happily cleaning them off. That product has the soap, but also has pyrethrins that you probably don’t need and might kill predators. Even the soap would harm the larvae if I sprayed it directly on them.

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