Hello! I'm still new to all of this (everything!). Looking for help with an aphid infestation.
We have an aggressive aphid problem on our mature plum tree and now my potted dill, and I'm assuming there are more to come for my other plants. I found the aphids after noticing the dill plant looked a little unhealthy, and I noticed it was covered in ants (I'm guessing they are herding the aphids). We are in a large grassy area, surrounded by other grassy properties in the high desert of Central Oregon. The dill is in a pot right next to some yarrow, cilantro and parsley (but nothing is flowering yet). The plum tree has plenty of leaf curl where the aphids are hiding.
I've looked around and have found that green lacewing larvae are recommended predators for aphid problems. Is it "ok" to order these online, or does that open up a can of worms for other problems by introducing a new bug population artificially like that?
I know ladybugs also control aphids, but I really don't think I have never seen a single one on our property. I'm adding more and more flowering plants every year but there is still much to be done.
If you live in North America, there is probably already a lacewing there. It looks like the commercial lacewing is one of the native varieties, so I would be comfortable ordering more to increase the population.
I think it's the ladybugs and preying mantis that are questionable as these things go. The ladybugs don't usually stay on the property they are released on. If I remember properly, there's also something controversial about how they're gathered. The preying mantis is usually a nonnative Asian species that outcompetes our natives.
I think you need to deal with the ants before the beneficial insects can deal with your aphids. The ants actively defend their milk herds from predatory insects. You might try Bryant Redhawk's technique of watering in fresh coffee grounds on top of any fire ant mounds you find. If you can afford enough coffee, maybe you can even make moats to surround the most important plants.
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