My daughter’s eagle eyes spotted a cluster of insect eggs on the underside of our parsnip leaves. Many moths and butterflies are laying their eggs right now, so seeing a little white pearl glued to the underside of a leaf isn’t strange.
The parsnips in question are late in the garden; they’ve been in the ground for a while and don’t like the heat so they are stressed. Just as we become sick when stressed, so do plants, and the parsnips are under attack by aphids and ants. Ants feed off of the sticky excretions of the aphids, so they have become ranchers. Ants cultivate herds of aphids on stressed plants, grooming them and collecting their, um, poo. So trying to put that image out of your head, if you see a lot of ants on a plant, expect aphids to be there also. Aphids have rasping, sucking mouthparts that they use to eat away at a plant and suck the vital juices out of it. Sorry, there is another image that you probably don’t want. How to get rid of aphids? The natural way would be to make sure your plants aren’t stressed, and allow ladybugs to flourish in your garden.
So what would you do if you saw THIS in your garden?
Run screaming? Hit it with a trowel? Wait! You shouldn’t do any of those things! These are baby ladybugs! Just as many children do not resemble the adult into which they will grow, ladybug larvae look like something that Godzilla might take on… if the larvae were the size of a house or something, which they aren’t. Okay, I’m digressing here.
Back to that cluster of eggs my daughter saw. They were hatching ladybug larvae!
I’ve never seen them that small before. Good news for the garden: rescue forces are being hatched!
Ladybug larvae eat more aphids than the adults do (just think of teenagers and refrigerators). When they’ve grown as much as they can, they will transform in to the ladybugs that we all know and love (even though we sing a horrible song to them about leaving the garden to check on a false alarm about fire and their children. And people complain about not being able to keep ladybugs in their yards!)
So if you see a creepy bug on your plants, the sides of your house… anywhere… don’t squish him! It may be part of the Ladybug Larvae Special Forces out to break up the illegal ant ranches in your garden!