Mail order ladybugs for indoor citrus

Hey All,

I’ve got 8 small citrus varieties growing in pots in my bedroom and starting to notice some parasitic insects - scale and red mites - starting to proliferate. I’ve been using insecticidal soap which works ok, but its a pain to spray every week since it requires moving the plants into the bathtub temporarily so as not to destroy all my furniture.

Does anyone have any experience with mail order lady bugs for this type of setting/situation? Will they take care of the problem on their own or will I still need to spray? How long do they live? Any way to keep them dormant and release a new batch every week so I don’t have to keep shipping in new ones?

They’re cheap so I’ll probably try it. My wife doesn’t love the idea of importing more bugs into the house even though they don’t bite and aren’t destructive.

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No experience with the ladybugs but I bought some worms from that company 2 years ago and they came alive and well packaged in cool weather.

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Listen to the wife. You know lady bug can fly, it may land on your clothes, your face when you are sleeping, or get a bug in your mouth when you wake up in the morning… if I was you, I won’t choose to live with additional bugs.
Plus ladybug likes to eat aphids. Not sure it eats scales too

Mites (especially spider mites) and scale are the bane of indoor citrus growing. Unfortunately, I don’t think ladybugs will be much help. First of all the adults aren’t as good eaters as larvae and they also are best for aphids. And they are unlikely to stay on the plants.

For scale, if you want to use predatory bugs, you will still need to do some manual removal of the adults under those hard shells, since they generally won’t get those. Lacewing larvae will clean up the younger ones that you probably won’t see. The lacewings will also help with the mites, but you would be even better off adding a predatory mite as well, but you probably need to identify the exact type of mite to make sure you have the right predator. For instance, here is one that can work on spider mites: persimilis

These won’t fly around the house either like ladybugs and should stay on the plants for the most part. But it often takes several applications, and even then, with multiple plants for a few survivors to hide on, it is an ongoing battle.

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The challenging parts about getting live bugs and tropical plants shipped in the winter is they freeze to death. I bought a poinsettia for my grandma for Christmas from Costco online. Due to a snow it did not get delivered and sat overnight at UPS. It came frozen and dead. I got a mandarin shipped and they shipped in winter. The mandarin came dead. At USPS around March or April people start to ship birds like chickens, turkeys etc. There was a surprising amount of birds that would just come into our office dead.

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I have to say I think it is crazy to send live birds by regular mail.

Usually, orchids are of no interest except for vanilla to me. but I ordered some in winter and was very surprised at how well they took care of it, they packed a 72-hour heat accumulator/pad with it and it was well insulated. I wrote an email directly how great I thought it was.

I don’t know if you have in northamerica the same problem with the invasive asian ladybugs. here you hardly see any native ones anymore, the asian ones have the habit of killing all the other ladybug larvae as soon as they hatch.

if you also have problems with invasive ladybugs, I think the idea is great if they are native ones for your Citrus. I just wonder what happens when they eat all the aphids and other pests in winter… do they starve to death, they eat a lot in one day.

There is a lot that can go by mail. Live animals go with a live animal surcharge which means special handling but not special delivery. Basically with live animals USPS calls to have you pick them up. Live plants and insects typically don’t have a number. Bees seem to be an exception (yes USPS ships live bees too). Most of these live things tend to come early summer, spring and towards fall since it is not too hot but not too cold. We have a company that sells live birds so we get a lot in my current office though I am due to change offices so we will see whichever office still has something like that. Other services people may not realize is USPS ships things under a certain amount of radiation for testings, USPS ships cremated remains by priority express mail and then there are other weird services I am sure I am not even thinking about. I have heard of asian ladybugs but don’t even know how to tell the difference.

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I’m not sure if I want to know what can be sent… :smile:
if there is a special service for pet shipping, that is good.

I think working in logistics has definitely become very stressful since the internet came along and while corona did get more stressful, I assume.

it’s very easy if the ladybug doesn’t look like a normal one it is an asian one

^ scroll down to “Food”

I’ve ordered ladybugs by mail and they’ve always arrived ok. The mailing temps can be cold (they’re held refrigerated) but not freezing. You could release some and keep rest in refrigerator for later release.

Ladybugs are excellent for controlling aphids, but I’ve never seen them make a dent in scale. Monthly soapy water +neem is best for controlling scale although it does make a mess and neem has an odd fragrance! After about 6 months of spraying you have a sticky leaf surface and you need to wipe leaves clean and start again. A lot of work!

For spider mites you can hang sachets or discs like these: Andersoni for killing broad, hemp russet and two spotted spider mites - Naturally ! - Evergreen Growers Supply, LLC

I tried lacewing larvae in greenhouse and the eggs were immediately consumed by ants! So now I have diatomaceous earth spread on top of soil to deter ants.
A lot of work for citrus!!

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Thanks for suggesting Andersoni predators. They are so cheap but default overnight shipping is 50 bucks! You think they’d survive a longer trip? I’ll email them to see.

Wow that’s hefty! I see that ground shipping is only available in the PNW.