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Sepp Holzer and ants

 
paul wheaton
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In his book (the only one translated to English) Sepp tells a story of a road going in on some nearby land and Sepp's going to a lot of effort to save the anthills. 

And then, on about the third day, Sepp told a story about his mom's cabbages being riddled with caterpillars/worms eating the cabbages.  But his own cabbages were untouched.  And then, one day, he saw a bunch of ants had captured one of the cabbage eating caterpillars/worms and were taking it to their anthill ...

Later, I visited with Josef, who told me that it has to do with a very particular species of ant that is something of a general insect consumer.  So, when they have a patch that has some insect trouble, they move in an anthill.  I also get the impression that sometimes they feed ants and ant eggs to fish. 



 
Leah Sattler
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oooh! did he mention any particular species! I would love to find some that would chomp on squash bug eggs and nymphs.
 
paul wheaton
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Yes!  He mentioned it.  And I didn't write it down.  Sorry.
 
Gwen Lynn
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I'm pretty sure they are Austriants. 
 
Leah Sattler
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booooooo hissssss. 

I don't have much time but did a quick google. no concrete info on species but......am I the only person who didn't know that some ants protect aphids from predators? apparently the only way to know wether the ants you have are beneficial or not is to simply observe them since they are often oppurtunistic and/or will turn their attentions to unwanted areas if food is scarce.
 
paul wheaton
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Gwen Lynn
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Sorry Leah, you're not the only one. I've watched the ants "farm" aphids in my yard for years. I didn't mention it earlier because I figured it was common knowledge. That's one of the 1st things I learned about da 'phids, as I like to call them. That & ladybugs like to eat them, of course. Regarding ladybugs, I think I read (or heard) somewhere that ladybug larvae are more voracious than the ladybugs themselves.
 
paul wheaton
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Not only do the larva (aphid lions) eat more than the adults, but they have no wings - so they ain't going far!
 
Gwen Lynn
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Aphid lions! I like that. It makes sense too. They bite! I was surprised how noticeable it was when one bit me.

Now I have this strange image in my mind of 2 aphids dressed in sequins on a stage in Vegas...taming white aphid lions. When...suddenly...an aphid lion drags one of the aphids to "safety"! 

Sorry Roy!  ops:
 
Susan Monroe
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I've never understood why they are called 'aphid lions' when everyone who has seen one says they look like alligators.

Sue

 
Gwen Lynn
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They do look like alligators, for sure!
 
paul wheaton
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I've heard of people being bitten.  But I have never been bitten by a ladybug or ladybug larva. 

It makes me wonder if there are some bugs that look like ladybugs that bite - or if it is actual ladybugs.

 
Nicholas Covey
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Here in the midwest we are having an infestation of insects that appear to be ladybugs. BUT, they bite. They leave a horrible smell if you smash one. They leave a nasty orange film everywhere they go. They cluster in corners and in cabinets, and i have to sweep the floor daily to get rid of the carcasses, even throughout the winter. The locals call them Japanese beetles, but Japanese beetles look nothing like these. I tend to think they are Mexican Bean Beetles, which are a species of lady beetle. They seem to be gone most of the year as long as there are soybean fields around. Once the frost hits, they are everywhere.
 
Gwen Lynn
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I had one on me long enough to be nipped by one. It's just a tiny little pinch, nothing severe. It's also happened to my husband. A quick google says it's the Asian lady beetle that bites.

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hse-fact/1030.html
 
paul wheaton
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Josef sent me an email 9 days ago and then I found myself flying out the door and not relaying what he had to say. 

In the spirit of late is better than never: 



the name of the ant is: Formica polyctena

and, it is not a austriant - its an europeant...





Tada!

Pretty cool, huh! 

 
                                      
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My first year managing a marina in the California Delta we were plagued by swarming "lady bugs" that bit.  People using the restrooms complained that while they were showering the "bugs" would nest in their clothes and cover their towels.  There were swarms of them, nasty biting swarms that headed out as soon as it got really cold. 

We bought Lady Bugs to kill aphids one year, they all flew away.  Today we bought to Preying Mantid egg cases and I'm hoping that they will make their home here!  Being a cancer survivor I refuse to use chemicals in the yard and garden as much as possible.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Europeant!  I love it, wish I'd thought of it!

Referring back to mention of aphid lions. Recently, I was reading a book called "Oklahoma Gardening" by Steve Dobbs. He mentions Green Lacewing larvae are also known as Aphid Lions. Interestingly, the Lacewing larvae looks similar to a ladybug's. Until I read about lacewings, I didn't know they were considered to be a beneficial insect.

I found this link about lacewings:
http://www.uky.edu/Ag/CritterFiles/casefile/insects/lacewings/lacewings.htm
 
paul wheaton
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Fanciesmom wrote:
My first year managing a marina in the California Delta we were plagued by swarming "lady bugs" that bit.  People using the restrooms complained that while they were showering the "bugs" would nest in their clothes and cover their towels.  There were swarms of them, nasty biting swarms that headed out as soon as it got really cold. 

We bought Lady Bugs to kill aphids one year, they all flew away.  Today we bought to Preying Mantid egg cases and I'm hoping that they will make their home here!  Being a cancer survivor I refuse to use chemicals in the yard and garden as much as possible.


I have heard about biting ladybugs and have never experienced it.  I had one person tell me that the biting ladybugs are not true ladybugs - I wish I could get some confirmation on that.

One you have more of a polyculture, I think you will have fewer and fewer problems.

 
paul wheaton
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Oh!  And be careful what you wish for:  praying mantis is a not-so-picky predator.  She will eat good bugs as well as bad.

 
                                      
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The D.E. seems to be working on the ants.  Now we have to hope that the aphids go away.  Of course 2 lady bugs showed up on our rosebush with the worst problems.  I Wasn't sure how the DE would affect them so I moved them.

 
paul wheaton
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I often think that the best solution for aphids is a healthy plant.  Mulch!  Guilds!
 
                            
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I just stumbled upon this forum and planned on lurking but amazingly enough I have something to contribute. To keep aphids off your cabbages, broccoli rabe and the like, save your used coffee grounds and sprinkle in the soil when planting and while growing. I found the info somewhere on the web and it works!

I also use the grounds when repotting something. The soil in the pot was always crawling with fire ants. Now I put grounds at the bottom and throughout the soil to keep them away.

I've also used them to drive anthills away from crops instead of ant killer which I was forced to use out of desperation several years ago.

Added bonus, worms love coffee grounds.

 
Leah Sattler
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coffee grounds! that is a superb solution! like many I have to have my coffee in the morning and so I have a steady supply. the grounds go in the compost usually but it will be great to have that trick up my sleeve. thanks!
 
Ryan Capistrano
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The best Aphid control I have seen is to have willow trees, cardoon plants, and plenty of ventillation. I have never seen a plant that produces more ladybugs than simple river willows, and I have never seen a better insectary plant in general than a cardoon.
 
Brenda Groth
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the asian lady beetle was imported accidentally I believe and maybe first showed up in NYC. We have had them here for 40 years, they aren't as bad as they used to be though. When they first came on they were in such huge numbers that the real lady bugs were having a problem finding food. Now there seems to be a good balance, we have real lady bugs again and seldom see the asian lady beetles. They aren't red red like regular lady bugs but more of a brown red ..a bit larger..and yes they have a sharp bite. They hibernate in winter in any secluded area, window corners, attics, barns, crawl spaces, etc..I haven't seen one in my house now for years but I remember when we used to have hundreds of them.

I was also wondering if anyhone has tried the coffee ground thing on squash bugs?? any success?
 
Bobby Smith
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Coffee grounds are excellent for the worms in our ground here in Hawaii, but the ants love to make mounds and tunnels in the middle of the grounds...they don't help here.

Ladybugs can indeed bite...Harmonia axyridis is the correct name and the reason they often bite is they are looking for salt. And their reflex bleeding can cause stains!
 
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