Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ladybugs in the Greenhouse

While I have been taking best advantage of our unseasonably warm March weather by working outside in the rose gardens for the past couple of weeks, the warm conditions allowed aphids to infest the new growth on the roses in a small section of the greenhouse.  (some of my large roses that I ordered from Eurodesert Roses last year)  The rest of the 300+ roses in the remainder of the greenhouse are fine.

Pests in an ideal environment like the greenhouse can get out of hand really quickly.  Fortunately, while I was distracted in the garden, ladybugs were on scene to help clear up the problem.  There have been ladybugs hybernating in the greenhouse all winter.  With the arrival of warm temperatures, the male and female ladybugs did their thing, and now the infested plants in the greenhouse are covered with larvae ... voracious little things that eat, and eat, and eat ... and they love aphids.

Though they look spiny and scary, these little orange and black alligator-looking bugs are DEFINITELY the good guys.  The rose shoot in the photo above was particularly full of aphids, and these two little larvae babies were busily eating their fill.  (all of the white things you see are aphids they've already eaten)

I have spent the past two days in the greenhouse ... potting up the few roses that will be available in the nursery in May, and tidying up my own roses that are wintering over in there.  It was hard to keep my concentration at times, because I was so fascinated by the ladybug circle of life that was happening in that one corner.

In addition to the hoardes of larvae, I also found two pupae ... each stuck to the middle of a leaf, just like I have read that they do.

I didn't find any eggs.  Truthfully, I didn't take the time to look all that closely.  I was trying valiantly to stay on task ... to tidy up as many of the potted roses as possible.

It's weird that there is hardly an aphid to be found on any of the other roses except these few.  I'm not complaining, because these larger roses are better able to handle any damage caused by such a concentration of nasty sucking insects. 

If the aphids are still a problem when I'm finished grooming the rest of the roses in the greenhouse, I will probably have to do something about them ... capturing the ladybug larvae, washing the plants with a hose, and returning the larvae to finish off the remaining aphids.  In the meantime, I'm putting my money on the ladybugs.


  1. We seem to have an unusually large number of ladybirds about here in England. The warmer weather has meant we have been out in the garden earlier this year, and at first I thought I was seeing lots of dead ones (I didn't know about them hibernating). They are now all waking up, so with luck the roses should do well this year :)

  2. I hate it when I get bugs on my roses. I have so much trouble each season with Japanese Beetle...drives me crazy! I take a big wooden skewer and a bowl of soapy water and flip them into the water. I do this at least twice a day but they still take over. Very frustrating! It does seem so early to be doing what we normally do in late April. Strange season this year for sure! Good luck!~Hugs, Patti

  3. Everything is early in a greenhouse! :)

    Aphids usually 'bloom' in March in the greenhouse ... this year I was occupied outside and I didn't notice till it got out of hand. I generally use insecticidal soap in the greenhouse to control them. I do NOT, however, use any type of insecticide in the garden itself ... not even soap. There are enough predators in a well balanced garden to keep pests in check ... ladybugs, assassin bugs, preying mantis, predatory wasps, sparrows and other birds ... etc., etc.

    It took a year or so for the garden to get back into balance after I stopped using insecticides, and the garden is now a healthier place for me and for the critters.

  4. That is so cool about the ladybugs in the greenhouse...and I agree with you about the natural balance of a garden. My yard is healthy and there are no chemicals used in it. But neighbors all around use everything and continue to get infestations. Birds usually stay in or near my yard, another great bug eater!!! I haven't forgotten I need to come get that rose. ;) donna

  5. The first time I saw the larvae I thought they were the "bad" bugs. But as a teacher, I investigated and was happy to discover what they were! Kids love learning about the life cycles of our critters that we have here in our area.♥♫

  6. I had gotten an infestation of aphids when I had my lovely greenhouse in Idaho. I had to order a batch of lady bugs but they did the job in a matter of a week. I had tons of aphids on every plant! I am sure they will make short work of your infestation.

  7. I've seen just a few ladybugs so far this spring in TN. I'm glad they're helping out in your greenhouse!

  8. How cool is that!! I'd be sitting there watching and watching, fascinated by the whole natural process.

  9. Those aphids are just such a pain in the butt, aren't they? I love that the ladybugs "got them". I'm sure you are beyond busy at this time of year in your greenhouse...and I'll bet you are LOVING your new building! Have a great rest of the week, Connie- xo Diana

  10. Read the post, but love your comment below it about not using insecticides and that the garden is now a healthier place for you and the critters. Amen!

  11. What an interesting post...I would be equally sidetracked by the buggy activity. That stuff fascinates me.....loved your photos.

    Looking forward to seeing the gardens when they are visitor ready.

    janet xox

    PS...we need to get together next week!

  12. Very cool pics. I love lady bugs, they are so cute, and it's an added bonus that they are the good guys to boot!


  13. My rose standards that I overwintered in my office last year looked just like your images, minus the little predators unfortunately. It amazed me how quickly the problem multiplied.

  14. Well, I learned something new today! Here it was I thought they were just cute little bugs (about the only ones I allow to crawl on me by the way) and come to find out they are vicious little boogers!!


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