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Old 06-02-2014, 06:48 PM   #1
damdaman
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Default Why not all bugs (even aphids!) are bad

Ever year my hops get aphids. Most of the time I don't sweat it though. I am a firm believer that a healthy, fast-growing plant with plenty of water, sun and soil nutrients will easily outgrow any pests. Plants have plenty of natural defenses against pests and diseases, and insects will naturally attack weaker plants.

So when the aphids first show up in spring, I keep an eye on them, but generally let them be. As long as the plant keeps growing strongly and they don't reach plague levels, I know in a week or two the ladybugs will show up.

Right now I probably have about a dozen adult ladybugs crawling all over my plants, eating 100+ aphids a day. I probably have about 3 dozen ladybug larva doing the same thing at 50+ aphids a day, and I can spot at least 5 clutches of ladybug eggs on the undersides of my hop leaves just on one plant.

Why do the ladybugs love my hops so much? Because there's food for them! If I had attacked the first aphids with insecticidal soap or whatever it is you personally use, killed them off, not only would I risk contaminating/damaging my plant, but the ladybugs wouldn't have made a home on my plants and be on their 3rd generation right now.

But because there was abundant food in the form of a low-but-noticeable population of aphids, they made themselves at home, got fat and laid eggs, knowing their larva would have plenty to eat when they hatched.

So I've attached pictures from one of my hop plants showing this whole thing. Aphids sucking juices from my hops, adult ladybugs, egg clutches, and larva. If you're not familiar with ladybugs hopefully these pictures will help you identify them on your own plants. A lot of people see the eggs and larva and kill them, assuming they're bad. They're not.

And my hops easily outgrow this level of aphid infestation, they're at about 15' right now and starting to put out side shoots. I have leaves easily larger than the size of my palm.

Using this method to control aphids has worked for me for 5 years. I use complete, mineralized organic slow-release fertilizer that contains all the plant nutrients needed (google Steve Solomon's complete organic fertilizer if you're interested). Only once later in the season did I get into a situation where I decided to spray insecticidal soap on some leaves. I think I didn't fertilize enough and the plants weren't healthy enough.

I hope this helps!

img_1326.jpg   img_1420.jpg   img_4516.jpg  
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:01 PM   #2
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Natural pest control is the best. Prey Mantis is also good for pest control. You can buy lady bugs and release them into your garden if you need a boost in numbers.

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Old 06-02-2014, 09:40 PM   #3
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Awesome! I hope to see some ladybugs on my plants soon!

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Old 06-12-2014, 02:40 AM   #4
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The larvae have gotten nice and fat on aphids and are about to metamorphise into pupae before finally becoming adults. Also caught these two adults working on the next generation of larvae.

img_2453.jpg   img_2571.jpg  
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Old 06-12-2014, 01:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for posting. I saw an unfamiliar bug on my Cascade the other day. Now I think it was a larval lady bug.

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Old 07-13-2014, 09:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damdaman View Post
so, is that an aphid or a ladybug larvae? I just found a bunch of them on my 15' high Centennial, but no red ladybugs or little yellow eggs.

here's what I found:
img_4343.jpg   img_4344.jpg  
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Old 07-13-2014, 09:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
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so, is that an aphid? I just found a bunch of them on my 15' high Centennial, but not ladybugs.
Hope you didn't kill them, that is a ladybug larvae, aphid are small and white.
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Old 07-13-2014, 09:54 PM   #8
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Good old google. Ladybug I think!

http://www.ladybuglady.com/ladybugweb9.htm


Thanks ChefRex! I squished a couple down low, but there's still many of them up high. They will live.

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Old 07-13-2014, 11:52 PM   #9
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I saw the same on mine, have ladybugs now.

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