What can you do at home?
While one of our long term goals is to work with the agriculture sector to find environmentally friendly practices that are not harmful to beneficial insects such as bees and ladybirds, there are a number of small things that every person can do to contribute to a ladybird-friendly future.
Create lady bird safe-spaces
- Keep a part of the garden free from insecticides- no spraying!
- In this area, people should plant plants that attract ladybirds (and their prey)
Plants that naturally attract beneficial ladybirds include fennel, dill, tansy, bishop’s weed, angelica, Queen Anne’s lace, golden rod, coreopsis, cosmos, dandelion, sunflower, crimson clover, hairy vetch, indigenous grasses, butterfly weed, euonymous (“spindle tree”), hemp sesbania, soapbark tree and buckthorn, hibiscus, roses, lemon geranium.
Smart gardening involves both the reduction of pesticide usage as well as reducing the need to spray as much or as often through planting strategically and purchasing insecticides that are not harmful to ladybirds.
- Avoid pesticides
- Use alternative, ladybird-friendly pesticides
- Plant plants that discourage aphid infestation
- Avoid insecticides (organic or chemical) containing compounds for the control of beetle species such as astylus, CMR, flower, chafer, snout bugs and stink bugs.
- Avoid insecticides containing cypermethrin, deltamethrin, permethrin, bifenthrin, alpha-cypermethrin, chlorpyrifos, mercaptothion, gamma-BHC, fenitrothion, cyfluthrin, nicotine, rotenone, and natural pyrethrins, as these may kill adult ladybirds on contact.
Planting plants that discourage aphids in parts of the garden not necessarily allocated for ladybird safe spaces is another mechanism to control aphid populations without the use of insecticides. Aphids dislike garlic, chives, onions, mint, petunias and therefore these can be planted near plants affected by aphids. One can also cut up banana peels and place them on/in the ground next to the affected plants.
If necessary, some unwanted insects can be controlled by using alternative garden sprays for red spider mite, scale and aphids.
500 ml boiling water over 2 handful fresh nasturtium leaves. 50 drops diluted in 5 liters of water for spray.
Gerber J. (2005) The Garden Guardian’s guide to environmentally responsible garden care. Aardvark Press. Page 110
Ludwig’s roses. (2016) Rose care: Aphids [Online] http://www.ludwigsroses.co.za/rose-care/aphids/
Schoeman, A S. (2002) A Guide to Garden Pests and Diseases in South Africa. Struik Publishers. Page 150