Cooler weather creates hot demand for ladybugs in the Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Cooler weather creates hot demand for ladybugs in the Okanagan

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Ladybugs are the frontline in the battle against aphids, which are in full force in the Okanagan with the cooler weather.

READ MORE: Wet May and June raising Okanagan Lake levels

“I’ve never had aphids before and we’ve got them, and we’ve had in them in the orchard and perennial garden,"  Kathleen Ott, co-president of the Vernon and District Garden Club said. 

"The way we’re controlling them is by purchasing ladybugs."

Ott got her ladybugs through Nicholas Alexander Home & Garden and believes ladybugs are a popular form of pest control in the Okanagan because it means gardeners and orchardists won’t have to use pesticides, she said.

The supply of ladybugs has been affected this season due to the cooler weather, said Kirk Hughes, with Swan Lake Nursery.

“We had a tough time getting them and keeping them in stock because they were quite popular,” he said.  “They sell out quickly.”

“There’s certainly more interest in pesticide-free solutions so that could be why there’s so much interest but it’s sort of a trend everywhere,” he said.

Between April and May, there was a shortage of ladybugs because there was a gap in their migratory patterns with cooler temperatures along the coast. Warmer temperatures signal the bugs to swarm, so the pickers had a more challenging time harvesting them in California with the cooler temperatures, said Anna Boessenkool, the associate manager with The Bug Lady, a West Coast bug distribution company. 

Airline closures also made it challenging for The Bug Lady to get the supply of ladybugs.

“So with those two factors there was a shortage and we supply to a huge number of garden centres and gardeners,” she said.

With the increase in people gardening this season there’s also been an increase in demand for the ladybugs, she said.

With COVID-19 home and garden centres have been seeing an uptick in use as more people have spent time at home.

READ MORE: Garden centers appear to be getting a coronavirus bump

On the West Coast, pests have also been particularly bad this season with the cooler start to summer, she said.

Aphids like soft plant growth, so budding flowers and new fruit, so with a slower, cooler growing season with less sun, “you can see how plants may be more susceptible to aphid issues,” she said.

B.C. has the biggest demand for ladybugs in the country, mostly coming from Vancouver Island and the Okanagan, she said, adding that this year there has also been a shortage with ladybugs on the east coast.

According to The Bug Lady’s ladybug delivery map, ladybugs were recently delivered to a majority of their retail locations in the Okanagan within the last week.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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