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My kale and broccoli's are getting infested with aphids and they seem to be multiplying. I have tried to hose them off and that works temporarily but they are back in a few days. Research suggests using lady bugs is very effective. If someone has used it successfully, can they share some information such as how many lady bugs would I need, how effective was that, how do I keep them in my open backyard vs them flying off or better yet how do I multiply my lady bug population so they I have a good number year after year (or do I need to bring in lady bugs every year)

  • In case you don't already know you can make your own white oil from a teaspoon of olive oil, a squirt of detergent and a litre of water. – Peter Wone Mar 31 '17 at 4:01
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Ladybugs like to eat two things - some insects and pollen, so if you can plant around and about with plants that they'll like, that should help to not only attract them, but keep them around, so long as you've got something in flower for them. Not sure what the temperatures are like where you are, but in the UK, finding things ladybugs like that are in flower this early in the year is a bit difficult, but they like Chives, fennel, dill, English marigold (Calendula) and Tanacetum (feverfew) when they are in flower. With regard to Calendula, blackfly like those, so to some extent they can be used as a sacrificial plant because the aphids may prefer those to your food plants - Tropaeolum (Nasturtium) is another plant aphids love. Don't choose double flowered varieties to attract ladybugs, and pick plants with more open, flattish flowers. More suggestions can be found here: Tips To Attract Ladybugs To Your Garden.

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  • I have chives, fennel, marigolds and feverfew all in the same garden bed. Now I know why it's full of ladybugs. – Peter Wone Mar 31 '17 at 4:04
  • @PeterWone - yea - I've got a balcony with plants including chives, feverfew and fennel, and ladybirds (as we call them in the UK) are all over the place - they've been active for the last few weeks, and keep trying to come indoors as it gets cold in the evenings. – Bamboo Mar 31 '17 at 10:18
  • Down under we also call them Ladybirds. It adds colour. – Peter Wone Apr 1 '17 at 9:30
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Don't want to disuade you from trying but when a problematic bug explodes in number, they will never be quickly eradicated with a predator bug. Better to attend to conditions that caused the aphid outbreak. Without plentiful other sources of food for ladybugs and other conditions, they don't hang around. In any case, they will not effectively clean up aphids enough. Ladybugs show up naturally.

Typical causes for overabundance of aphids is overfertilization with high N fertilizers and/or extended wet cool weather.

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  • All good points. Thank you! We did have some wet weather in California this year and that could explain it. – JStorage Mar 30 '17 at 22:43
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Aphids like many insects go for the weakest plant they can see. So, if you have a raised bed of differing plants, you'll find that the aphids will target the weak plants and leave the strongest alone.

So, in my mixed raised of bed of cauliflowers, and broccoli, the broccoli are untouched but the cauliflowers are infested with aphids and cabbage worms ( I had an insect net but I guess the white butterfly somehow crawled under gaps ). Insects can detect abnormal growth patterns eg. excessive nitrogenous growth and that is like a blazing neon sign for them to come and feast.

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Purchase Lady Bugs and send them to your neighbors. They release and the Lady Bugs will end up on your property. Otherwise, Lady Bugs when they wake up are programmed to LEAVE the place they woke up...

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