Where Have all the Ladybugs Gone?


Last year, I took the floating row cover off my turnips and was shocked to see a major aphid infestation underway on the greens of all the plants. I thought about sprinkling some organic pesticide on the plants, until I noticed a wonderful thing happening: ladybugs everywhere, copulating and laying eggs among the leaves.

I let the bugs be and just watched. Within a few days, those ladybugs and their little alligator-looking young gobbled up all those aphids without any intervention on my part. It was a thing of beauty.

This year I have spotted a couple aphid infestations–none so far in the vegetable gardens–but those little sap-suckers and their accompanying hoard of honeydew-seeking ants have swarmed over a patch of goldenrod by Harry’s front door, and are also eating up my columbine plants here at home.

But where are the ladybugs? Where last year they were numerous, this year I could count on two hands the number of aphid-eaters who are partaking of this feast. I know that at our two places it’s not for a lack of winter cover–there’s not enough time in the autumn to clean up every patch of fallen leaves and debris even if we wanted to.

I can’t imagine that their population would have crashed completely–even with our late cold weather. Another interesting note is that all of the ladybugs I have seen are what we call the “old fashioned” red variety–not their aphid-munching but also human-pinching orange Asian lady beetle cousins.

At least I did see another aphid predator out and about last night–a green lacewing clinging to my pants when I took the dog out in the backyard. But I am interested to know if others have observed a significant drop in their local ladybug populations.

Let me know.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Pam on June 18, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    No little red ladies here in Mitchell. I had one land on me a few weeks ago, but that was it. My folks live in Michigan and have tons of them there.

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