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Respite from the ‘lady bugs?’

There were fewer aphids in Manitoba crops this year so Asian lady beetle populations should drop too

Those pesky Asian lady beetles, the bane of rural Manitoba homeowners, aren’t expected to be nearly as plentiful this fall because there haven’t been as many aphids for them to feed on, says Manitoba Agriculture entomologist John Gavloski.

“The ladybird beetles were abundant last year because they had lots of food,” he said in an interview Aug. 14. “They won’t have nearly as much food this year. Not only are the soybean aphids at much reduced levels, but also the aphids weren’t nearly as abundant in the cereals. In pea crops they weren’t as high.

“Soybean aphids are really what gave that bump last year.

“From the Asian lady beetle point of view it was the perfect storm.

“But this year they would have to forage a lot more to find food. It will be a lot tougher. They won’t be able to reproduce the way they did last year.”

Many homeowners reported vacuuming up hundreds of ‘ladybugs’ that found their way into homes last fall and revealed themselves all winter and this spring.

“There isn’t really a lot I can recommend,” Gavloski told Manitoba Co-operator reporter Lorraine Stevenson during an interview this spring. “All I can really suggest is to the best of your ability, if you know or can figure out where they’re getting in, to just try to make the house as least accessible to them as you can.”

Gavloski has written extensively about the multicoloured lady beetle, and how its colours, behaviour and big appetite for aphids distinguish it from the other 66 species of lady beetles species found in Manitoba.

Its origins are Eastern and Central Asia, and they were released several times in North America to biologically control some insects, he said.

The Asian lady beetle has a huge appetite for aphids, eating anywhere from 15 to 112 a day, and as a result sometime farmers don’t have to use an insecticide to control in their crops.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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