Nature | Neighborhood

Kiawah River Uses Ladybugs as a Natural Pest Control

At Kiawah River, we strive to keep things as natural as possible. So, when our Chief Environmental Officer, Jeff Snyder, noticed an increase in aphids on plants around the community, he decided to combat them with a natural enemy: ladybugs.

Aphids are tiny, yellow bugs that appear in clusters on plants in warmer months. Look for them on soft stems, branches, buds and fruit. They destroy plants by sucking nutrient-rich sap from them, resulting in curled or yellowed leaves, deformed flowers or damaged fruit. They can also damage plants by leaving behind a secretion called “honeydew”—a sticky substance that invites plant viruses and mold. They are one of the most destructive insect pests on cultivated plants.

If you’re trying to avoid using pesticides (as we do in Kiawah River), one way to get rid of aphids is to have ladybugs do your dirty work for you. Ladybugs feast upon aphids, and will eat about 50 aphids per day, or about 5,000 aphids in their one-year lifecycle. They eat only insects and do not harm plants in any way.

Jeff bought a half gallon of ladybugs in the mail, and they came in a cloth bag enclosed in a cardboard box. He placed the bag in an area where he knew aphids were living on some native butterfly bushes. To release them, Jeff just set the bag on the ground and propped it open so the ladybugs could find their own way out. Within a few minutes, the ladybugs were crawling everywhere, including on the plants where the aphids were living.

This ladybug release is just one of the many natural and non-invasive ways that we try to keep environmental issues under control at Kiawah River.