HEAT ALERT! For deliveries during hot weather please have coolers with cold packs ready with a note--FedEx/UPS drop here. HEAT ALERT! For deliveries during hot weather please have coolers with cold packs ready with a note saying 'FedEx/UPS drop here' if not available to accept delivery.

Sound Horticulture Bug Blog



5 Reasons why we don’t sell ladybugs

Ladybugs are well known and loved by many people all over the world. They are a sign of good fortune and health. They are welcome in gardens as a natural predator of aphids and other pests. Then why is it not a good idea to purchase them for biocontrol? Following are the five top reasons why we don’t sell ladybugs for biocontrol.

1. Almost all ladybugs are harvested from the wild, and it is against the law to harvest wildlife without a permit. The two main species are the convergent ladybug, Hippodamia convergens, and the Asian ladybug, Harmonia axyridis. In the future, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife hope to have regulations on ladybug harvest, but at this point, no laws exist.

2. Ladybugs can vector disease and introduce parasites. Transporting an insect caught in the wild to a garden or greenhouse can expose the native insects to harmful parasites or pathogens, shortening their lifespan and reducing their productivity.

3. Ladybugs don’t stick around. Ladybugs are harvested during the winter months in California while they hibernate or diapause. When they are released into a new environment, they inherently migrate out of the area within 1-2 days. This is built into their system: hibernate, migrate, feed and then lay eggs, in this order. Inherently disperse.

4. Disruption of native habitat. No one knows the effects of removing millions of ladybugs from the wild each year. What happens to the native wildlife populations that depend on ladybugs for food? What happens to the ecosystem? One study suggests that the removal of ladybugs from the California foothills each year could lead to pest problems for farmers in the central valley, thus increasing the use of pesticides (Hagen, Kenneth S. 1954).

5. Competition with local beetles and other insects for food. It seems like there are always too many aphids, but introducing a wild species could disrupt the native populations, robbing them of valuable resources.

There are many other beneficial insects that are available from Sound Horticulture for biocontrol. These insects are raised in insectaries and have proven effective for many growers over the years. The most likely replacement for the ladybug is the lacewing larvae, Chrysoperla rufilabris, another generalist predator. Lacewing larvae can consume up to 200 soft-bodied insects per day and will not fly away. They are sold as eggs, larvae or adults. Delphastus pusillus is a ladybird beetle that preys on whitefly, Stethorus punctillum is a tiny ladybird beetle that preys on spider mites and Cryptolaemus montrouzieri is a predator beetle for mealybugs.

Cultivating a wide variety of pollen-rich blooms will attract ladybugs, as well as using a pheromone lure, Predalure, to bring in the beneficial insects. Please consider the risks when purchasing ladybugs online. Insects are essential for our survival. As E.O. Wilson once said “It’s the little things that run the world” 

Potential Risks of Releasing Convergent Ladybeetles, Xerces Society

Predalure package

Lacewing larvae feeding





Continue reading

Anystis, No Ordinary Mite

Anystis, No Ordinary Mite

One Mite to rule them all, One Mite to find them, One Mite to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. Just like the One Ring of Lord of the Rings fame, Anystis baccarum, has the potential to become a powerful tool for growers everywhere. 

The strength of Anystis lies in its feeding preferences...everything! This mite will feed on aphids large and small, thrips, whitefly, scale, leafhoppers, spider mites, echinothrips, mealybug, and root aphids. It not only attacks the vulnerable young stages of these pest, but will also successfully capture the mobile adult stages. If prey is scarce it can also sustain itself on pollen and supplemental food such as Ephestia eggs and Artemia cysts. 

Anystis baccarum has just been released this year to the United States market. As a new biocontrol agent, research is still ongoing. We encourage growers to trial Anystis in their crops and share their results with us. Researchers at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario partnered with Applied Bio-nomics in Victoria, British Columbia to develop a breeding system, grower trials and packaging. Anystis was launched to the Canadian market in January 2022. 

“Anystis is an exciting new predator. It appears to be a true generalist and is not intimidated by some of the toughest pest’s natural defenses, such as wax and webbing. It is easy to see and scout, helping growers see their activity. And, it is always hungry, a very good trait,” said Brian Spencer, President of Applied Bio-nomics Ltd.

Also named the Crazee mite, or Whirligig mite, Anystis runs rapidly and erratically across leaf surfaces as well as exposed concrete. Adults are relatively large in size compared to other predatory mites, roughly twice the size of an adult Phytoseiulus persimils. They are bright orange or red in color and the adults have noticeable hairs on their legs and abdomen. 

Anystis can establish and persist in crops. Optimum conditions are 70ºF and over 70% RH. Eggs and larval stages prefer moist, warm conditions, but will still develop in temperatures as low as 50ºF. The complete life cycle takes approximately 4 weeks from egg to adult. Anystis mites have one larval and three nymphal stages before reaching maturity. All stages are predatory and all mites are female. Adults live up to 3 weeks during which they continually feed. Eggs are laid in the substrate several times throughout the adult phase in small clusters of 15-30 eggs.

Anystis has been used successfully on many different crops, including Cannabis, ornamentals and fruit orchards, but, according to Rose Buitenhuis and Taro Saito in the January 18, 2022 article Anystis, Building a New Predatory Mite from Potential to Product, "Although Anystis is found in many types of plants in the wild, including herbaceous, grass, shrubs, and trees, our preliminary observations indicate that Anystis may not establish in tomatoes, due to the granular trichomes on the stems, or in plants with smooth and slippery stems like roses and poinsettias." 

Anystis baccarum is well suited for both outdoor applications in gardens, nurseries and field crops as well as indoors, in greenhouses and on house plants. 

Intraguild predation is not has worrisome as one would think. According to Brian Spencer, president of Applied Bio-nomics, "When we first started working with Anystis, we were afraid that it would break our rule of only selling compatible products. But, to our amazement, when presented with our available products, we found that it was remarkably well behaved.

It stepped over Aphidoletes larvae and didn’t seem to notice Encarsia or fallacis. It actually does eat cucumeris, but when we consider that the cucumeris is an effective food supplement for Anystis, the combination is extremely cost effective and safer, when compared to providing supplemental pollen, or other food mites.

What we have noticed is that Anystis likes the “sport” of tackling adults. With thrips, they lunge at and catch adult thrips, leaving the larvae for the smaller predatory mites. With whitefly, we only see them walking around with adults in their mouths. They don’t appear to recognize the scale as food. 

Even if they eat persimilis as easily as spider mite, the typical ratio is about 50 spider mite to 1 persimilis, so, the odds are they will eat more spider mites and not affect the dynamic, as californicus does by dramatically preferring persimilis eggs, over spider mite."

Anystis baccarum

For best results, use with other beneficial insects and mites. Aphid control is best achieved with preventative applications of Crazee Mites as needed, and regular preventative releases of Aphidoletes every three weeks during peak season. 

Spider mite control is best with Amblyseius fallacis introduced preventatively at a rate of 2 mites/sq. ft., followed by a Crazee Mite application of .25 mites/sq. ft. 

Thrips control is best achieved with an introductory rate of Crazee Mites, .25/sq. ft. and reapplied as needed, with regular releases of Amblyseius cucumeris every 4-5 weeks or as needed. 

Most growers have found a good preventative rate to be .25 mites/sq. ft, however this number may change based on crop, pest and/or the environment. Greater rates will result in quicker knock-down.

Crazee Mites come in packages of 50, 250 or 1,000 adults with wood shavings as the carrier. Visit Sound Horticulture for more information of call us today to order the One Mite to Rule them All!   (360) 656-6680 



Continue reading
Recent posts
Anystis, No Ordinary Mite
Back to top