In the past week, the temperature rose to values that belong more to April than to this winter month. All kinds of insects became active and came out of hiding to enjoy the nice weather.
The common brimstone flew, bees buzzed around the crocuses and the first ladybugs basked in the sun. It is remarkable to see that insects easily survive a cold period with frost and snow.
First ladybugs active
There are many different types of ladybugs and they always emerge in the same order after hibernation. The first one to be found in your garden is the seven-spot ladybird. They like plants with a rosette and coarse or hairy leaves such as foxglove, sage or bugloss. On a warm day they come out of the leaves and sit in a sunny spot. Often they sit on the same leaf for hours and as soon as the sun has disappeared they crawl back into the shelter of the rosette.
Another, less known species that becomes active early is the pine ladybird or Exochomus. These predatory beetles are very useful in fruit trees where they keep a pest like woolly apple aphid under control. This weekend, they emerged by the dozen from the cracks and fissures of a 25-year-old apple tree. This apple tree suffers from wolly apple aphid every year. In the cracks of the trunk you will see white woolly fluff, which is characteristic for this pest. That it never gets out of control is thanks to the larvae of Exochomus. They are capable to eat most of the woolly apple aphids within a week. So it’s a good sign that so many adult pine ladybirds have hibernated in this tree.
The natural enemies you see in nature that are ready to clean up a pest, is simulated in greenhouses. In tomato cultivation for example, predatory bugs (Macrolophus pygmeus) are introduced at the beginning of the growing season. The idea is that they build a population that immediately takes action when a pest such as whitefly emerges. This is called a ‘standing army’, an army of predatory insects that is ready when pests are expected.
Introduce ladybugs in your garden
Don’t you have that many ladybugs in your garden (yet)? Then you can give nature a helping hand with the products from the Entocare webshop. As soon as you find woolly apple aphids on apple trees or woolly soft scale on Hortensia (Hydrangea), it is time to order Exochomus larvae. You can expect these pests from April onwards. Click here for more information about Exochomus.