Release the Ladybugs

This time of year, our garden is in full spring swing. Seedlings are growing, strawberries are ripening, tomatoes are flowering, and aphids are attacking. Luckily, this is also the time of year when my local nursery keeps a handy supply of ladybugs in their refrigerator.

For those of you not into gardening, next to the praying mantis, the ladybug kicks the most buggy butt in the garden. Not only does it not eat my plants, but it feasts on the little bugs—like aphids and white flies—who try to destroy my garden, particularly my roses.

And yes, you can find them in your local nursery’s refrigerator until just past Mother’s Day. The cool temps keep them in hibernation mode until they’re ready to bug up and get down to aphid eating business.

Every year, the kids and I get a couple containers and bring them home. We wait until evening and then go outside in the dusk and release the ladybugs. Since, of course, if we release them during the day, they’d just fly away.

Imagine 500 ladybugs being scattered around the garden. The shiny black and red beetles crawl up our arms, across our stomachs and over our fingers. We lightly blow them off our arms and gently place them on particularly infested plants. They scatter to dine, crawling up branches and across leaves while we watch in fascination.

For the kids, it’s one of their favorite gardening activities. They start asking for ladybugs as early as December.  And when they come home to see the brightly colored carton, it’s all I can do to keep them from opening it up before its time. 

I’m sure we’ll release one more carton in another few weeks. The kids are already excited about it. After all, how often do you get to stand still while beautiful bugs tickle your arms?