Assisted Natural Pest Control (Harlequin Ladybirds)

I extended my vegetable bed a bit in July and took the opportunity of additional space to sow some more dwarf french beans. They’ve grown well and are extending my french bean season as they started cropping at the beginning of the month (September). However, they are becoming infested with blackfly. As you will know, blackfly are carried around by ants who “milk” them for their honeydew. There’s not much I try to do about either ants or blackfly, on the climbing french beans I squash any that I can get at easily and on the broadbeans I cut the soft tops off to try to stop them. However, they’ve already got out of control and rubbing the dwarf french beans seems to damage them more than the climbers.

As its coming late in the season, the Harlequin Ladybird larvae are out in force. Harlequin Ladybirds are of Asian origin but were introduced into the US to control aphids. However, they are so successful that they have arrived (more or less) everywhere across the globe, the UK in 2004. In the US they are known as the “Halloween Beetle” because they tend to swarm around the end of October. Unlike native species, they seem to want somewhere relatively warm to hibernate over the winter and so can invade homes.

However, I’ve been collecting the larvae from around the and depositing them on my beans, hoping it might make a little improvement on the number of blackfly. I know it won’t really make much difference but its always fun.