Ladybugs

10 Jun

Four thousand ladybugs arrived all the way from Ohio to my home in central Wisconsin today.  They came Priority Mail.  A very concerned postman delivered them – the box was labeled “Live Ladybugs,” and it was a bit dented.  He was worried the ladybugs had been squashed; having never been responsible for delivering live ladybugs before, he wasn’t sure quite what to expect.  He also wondered why anyone would order 4,000 ladybugs from the Internet.  “To eat the thousands of aphids infesting my cherry tree,” I explained.

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I had waited expectantly all week, and they finally arrived.  They were shipped in a mesh bag, four thousand ladybugs cuddled together.  A small cold pack had been taped to the box next to the mesh bag, keeping the ladybugs’ body temperature low, so they would make their long journey in a calm, sleepy state.

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The sheet that came along with the shipment instructed me to keep the critters in the refrigerator, until it was time to release them.  At that time, I was to spray a sweet liquid nectar on the cherry tree leaves to attract the awakening ladybugs, who were sure to be very hungry.

We followed the instructions to the letter, carefully squirting the trees with the sweet nectar, gingerly opening up the mesh bag, and then coaxing the wobbly visitors toward their first aphid feast.  They stumbled, stretched their wings, and settled in.

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Ladybugs, of which there are more than 150 species in the United States (LadybugLady), love aphids, mites, and mealy bugs, among other tasty morsels that pester fruit and vegetable gardens.  They are considered harbingers of good luck the world over.  In Greece, they are called Paschalitsa because they are found abundantly around Easter time. In Turkish, they are called Uğur böceği, insects of fortune. In Catalan they are called Marieta, little Mary, after the Virgin.

I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and go check on my Paschalitsas.  I hope they will be having a hearty breakfast of aphids, followed by a hearty lunch and dinner, with a few Hobbit-ish elevensies thrown in.  And perhaps after all that feasting, late in August, I will be able to pick the fruit from my aphid-free sour cherry tree, and share with you my Yiayia’s recipe for Visino, one of Greece’s most favored sweets – a sour cherry preserve.

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If you want to learn more about buying ladybugs responsibly online, check out a post by Chicago urban gardener and blogger Ramon Gonzalez on  Treehugger.

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8 Responses to “Ladybugs”

  1. influenza54 June 10, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    Hello! I just started my own blog and I was wondering what kind of camera you use for you pictures. I love your pictures of the tiny, red ladybugs.

    • KuZina June 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

      I will be sure to visit your blog! I actually used my cell phone camera for this post. I’m working on improving the quality of my photos so I will be taking more using a Nikon DSLR. But often, the cell phone camera is convenient and does the job! If you want to see some truly beautiful blog images, check out Marueen Abood’s blog Rosewater and Apple Blossoms . . .

  2. sydneeelliot674 June 10, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

    Happy Ladybugging: I did this a few years back and my ladybugs left immediately, never to return. But my instructions didn’t mention sweet liquid nectar. I’ll be sure to do this if I try the ladybug solution again. Fortunately, this year my roses have been aphid free….so far.

    • KuZina June 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      My ladybug shipment arrived with a small packet of dry nectar that I dissolved in water . . . it rained a few hours after I had applied it, but by then the ladybugs had found the aphids! Glad your roses are doing well!!!

  3. Styli June 11, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Good luck with you paschalitses! What a great, natural, non-invasive way of pest control. Please let us know what happens!

    • KuZina June 11, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      I’ve been checking on them every morning, and they are busily munching away at the aphids! They are almost all gone from the cherry tree! Now I just need to see if they stick around and KEEP the aphids under control!!!

  4. Kristopher June 12, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    How fascinating, I had no idea! I’m adding Paschalitsa to my vocabulary.

    • Fakazis, Liz June 13, 2013 at 2:03 am #

      Isn’t it a wonderful word????!!!! :) ________________________________________

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