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ladybug carcasses on plums?

 
Kelda Miller
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I've got some kind of wierd pest action here. It's not harming enough plums to cause harm, but so wierd.

I swear that there's ladybug carcasses dehydrated against the plum. It looks exactly like the ladybug took a bit of plum and the plum sucked out all the ladybug's liquids, killing it head-first, plastering it against the plum.

I saw this more than 10 times today! What the heck!
 
Leah Sattler
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weird! I think you can feed ladybugs fruit temporarily. Maybe they were starving and as a last ditch effort tried to eat the plums
 
Kelda Miller
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OR, I just thought of this: Ladybug takes a bite of plum when it's rock hard and through osmosis the plum really does suck out the ladybug's fluids.

Or maybe it's just a pest that has a lady-bug like shell
 
paul wheaton
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Wolf spiders?  Really quick spiders that don't spin webs?
 
Kelda Miller
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No more ms. nice girl: these bug carcasses are penetrating nearly 1/10th of the crop (I notice now that I've been in the tree more). And then because of the puncture wound, the plum starts to go bad.

And no, there's no room for a wolf spider. I'll try and attach a pic tomorrow. I really want to figure out what this thing is. Google searches have been fruitless thus far.
 
Dave Boehnlein
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I suspect what you're finding are the molted old skins of ladybug larvae. Lady bugs start as larvae and crawl around eating aphids and such. Then they latch on somewhere and undergo a metamorphosis. When they come out of their old skin/shell they are ladybugs and can fly away leaving their old skins behind. I often find the little dangling shells on our plums because the larvae spent a lot of time there eating aphids and chose those same spots to to their transformation.

Dave
 
Leah Sattler
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Of course! Isn't it funny how simple things can be made complicated?  the easiest most simple answer is usually the correct one. Big DUH here.
 
Kelda Miller
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Yup. that sounds perfect. it Is indeed a larvae shell.

I've found that it's only affected the golden gage, but not the italian plum. So maybe it's a timing thing or maybe it's because the gages are squooshier to get into.

Anyhow: how to avoid it next year? They really damaged quite a bit of the plums. Ladybugs are bennies for goodness sake? How to distract them?
 
paul wheaton
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A stronger, healthier plant would have fewer aphids, thus fewer ladybugs.
 
Kelda Miller
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Agreed: except what if the tree doesn't even look sick, nor did I see any aphids? The plum tree has a sole buddy as a walnut tree, and could definitely use some good beneficial-insect attractors. BUT ladybugs are beneficials!

Since I do not want to deter ladybugs from my garden in general, should I just let it go? Those little carcasses, though did bruise about 1/10 or more of the crop. So I made plum butter and fruit leathers out of it. But that's 1/10 of a delicious crop that I can't sell fresh. Plus all the time to sort it out.
sad!
 
Leah Sattler
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I would be a bit irritated also. I wonder if there are any plants that could attract the lady bugs by hosting aphids?
 
Dave Boehnlein
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Around here the European plums often get hit with aphids during summer (even if they're perfectly healthy). Usually the die and don't present a problem. However, this was a bad year and they did some real damage (sticky, black gunk all over the leaves & fruit). For us the ladybug skins are much less of a problem.

I think you've found your answer...process the fruit that isn't top notch and sell it as a value added product.
 
Kelda Miller
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Huh, I had no problem at all with aphids here on the plums. At least I can be grateful that the ladybugs just left a puncture wound and skeleton and not aphid goo. That would be a pain to clean up, if it's worth it even then to process into something.
 
Kelda Miller
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Except, I just read that all that aphid goo can be collected and rolled into sugary balls that can be added to food throughout the winter. Don't despair Dave! You have a value-added crop as well!
 
Leah Sattler
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your kidding!!! hmmmmm. aphid date bars.......aphid bran muffins.............aphid tapioca pudding........nah.
 
Trebeca Itzen
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Here are some pictures of what you're talking about I believe...

http://treebeca.blogspot.com/2015/08/plums-have-mystery-bug-mystery-solved.html
 
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