Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fickle things: Ladybugs

I've been slowly taking indoor plants into the screened sunroom where the air and slight light change will hopefully acclimate them to the outdoors before I thrust them entirely out there to fend for themselves.

One plant that I've been aching to chuck out is my ornamental pepper, Black Pearl.

Out of all of my plants, the ornamental peppers have suffered greatly from an aphid infestation that I couldn't shake this winter despite repeated neem sprayings until I simply killed the Tricolore garda and then the Purple Calico soon thereafter (which I think got water logged and rotted too... my bad, I had a container that was spiffy and thought I'd be good at not overwatering.  Crud.)

The Black Pearl has held out pretty well out of all of them and was attacked last.  I didn't know of the infestation for quite a while I think because the new leaves on it are this lighter green the aphids hid in.  Later when they moved on to the darker purple leaves/stems did I CLEARLY see them.

Learning from my prior neem frenzy with the now dead other ornamental peppers (and there was poor light, and it's been cold in the house! They were weakened I say! Weakened!)  I just started snipping off the severely infested bits and made a good effort to check every day and squish any aphid stragglers.  Ick, that was a sticky mess.

So, as the weather appears to be more regularly now, I moved it into the sunroom and lo and behold, there was a a LADYBUG on the screen area, basking in the sunshine.

I promptly snatched it up and thought, "Haha! Now I've got you, you stinking aphids! Meet my leetle friend!"

Then placed the ladybug onto Black Pearl. AND, like all ladybugs it tried to fly away.

So I put it back on the plant.  It attempted to fly away again, but hit a leaf above it (brilliant bug, obviously).  Either ladybugs have a bad sense of smell/sight because I placed it on a plant with a veritable feast in front of it, and it didn't care.  After this long and starved winter? What gave?!

Luckily it appeared to start sniffing around and moving its mouth parts like it was really getting at stuff and began to explore the territory.

"PERFECT!  It's like my own aphid ROOMBA!" I sort of cackled in my head and rushed off to get a pic of this momentous occasion.

When I got back the ladybug had decided to fly off and thus, no pic could be got.

Then I found a small stem COVERED in aphids and got a bit huffy and chucked the Black Pearl outside in a sheltered location.  Here's where I do a little prayer hoping that the aphids will not like the weather and just melt down or something (like be discovered by smart ladybugs) and allow my Black Pearl to continue growing merrily along.

In the mean time, I've started some new Tricolore Garda and Purple Calico ornamental peppers from seed again.  Luckily for me, those things really put out little pepper fruits!

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