Life and Death on the Sweet Cicely

I have been seeing ladybugs in our gardens this year.

And I expect that their efforts will bring more…

If you see a little sloppy bunch of golden eggs on the underside of a plant leaf, do no harm. These are ladybug eggs.

The larvae will hatch out and feast heavily on aphids without your lifting a finger or spending a dime on sprays. The larvae do not look like adult ladybugs so don’t be tempted to kill those either. I did not get a decent picture of the larvae so I have linked the image from ladybuglady.com.

I have had a lot of activity on my Sweet Cicely plant including ants, aphids, and ladybugs. Ants and aphids have a mutualistic relationship. Aphids suck the sap from the plant. Their sugary excretion is eaten by the ants. The ants, in turn, herd and protect the aphids to the best of their ability. I even read that they assist the aphid to excrete the “honeydew” by stroking them with their antennae.

These aphids are posing for my camera. Well…they’re dead. It is evident that parasitic wasps have a role in this drama. Parasitic wasps lay their eggs in live aphids. As the egg pupates, the aphid weakens and becomes but a shell from which the wasp will hatch. These aphids are mummified.

I am so pleased to have these cycles and relationships building in the garden. The ecosystem is becoming more complex, more healthy, and is requiring less external input for its maintenance. In this post, it is clear that I have no need to pull out a spray to kill aphids. It is “self-managed.”

Here are some tips for attracting ladybugs and parasitic wasps to your landscape:

  • Plant pollen and nectar flowers such as yarrow, asters, coneflowers, and daisies.
  • Include herbs such as dill and parsley in your garden.
  • Conserve our native beneficial insects by avoiding pesticides.
  • Conserve native plants such as dandelions, wild carrot, and yarrow in nearby uncultivated areas.  They are important food and shelter sources for beneficial insects.
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One Response to Life and Death on the Sweet Cicely

  1. Pingback: Ladybug, ladybug | StellaLou Farm

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