By Larry Hodgson
Using predatory insects to control pests in houseplants is an effective, environmentally friendly and completely safe alternative to the use of chemical pesticides. — Camille Cormier
If you are discouraged by the idea of harmful insects spreading in your plants—houseplants, greenhouse crops, balcony plants, etc.—and fearful about the use of pesticides in your living space, there is a biological solution that may seem quite radical, but which can be very effective: biological control, that is, using natural predators to control unwanted pests. Thus, you use one living creature to suppress another. It’s the horticultural equivalent of fighting fire with fire!
It’s actually nothing new: all over the world, professional horticulturalists now use natural predators—usually tiny mites, insects or nematodes—to control plant pests. The problem is that while these predators are readily available to plant nurseries, public gardens and commercial greenhouses, the average gardener has a hard time finding them. They just haven’t been offered to the general gardening public … or at least, that has been the situation.
Because it is less and less the case. Local biological control companies specifically designed with the home gardener in mind and selling products they need in quantities adapted to their smaller scale needs seem to be a new trend.
This is the story of one of them: Lady Bug Phytoprotection. I’ve had some wonderful conversations with the owner, Camille Cormier, over the last few weeks and thought I’d share what I learned.
The Lady Bug Behind Lady Bug Phytoprotection
The firm Lady Bug Phytoprotection was born out of the imagination of Montrealer Camille Cormier. She graduated from the Montreal Botanical Garden School and has been working in the field of horticulture since 2006, specializing in biological plant protection. She holds a pesticide application certificate since 2018. Lady Bug Phytoprotection, launched in September 2020, was born from the union of her two passions: gardening and entomology.
In the wake of increasing pesticide bans, an integrated pest management company like Lady Bug Phytoprotection makes perfect sense. Its mission is to educate people on biological control techniques and to introduce natural predators as an extremely effective way to control pests.
Originally, Camille intended to help small professional growers make the leap to biological control and thus stop using chemical pesticides and unregistered ones, but she quickly realized that there were many avid home gardeners looking for a source of natural predators and information on their use. So much so, that she essentially put aside serving professional growers to focus on selling predators to individual gardeners. And she also created a Lady Bug Phytoprotection Facebook page where she announces all the information about predator orders, products, company news, announcements of new drop-off points, etc.
In 2021, Camille set up five drop-off points in the regions of Montreal, Québec City and Sherbrooke. Now, she is taking the plunge and offers home delivery throughout Ontario and Quebec. Yes, citizens of the two provinces (can now have predatory insects delivered directly to their door, safely and in the quantities they need. Lady Bug is now spreading her love of bugs throughout Upper and Lower Canada!
To get an idea of what is on offer, I suggest you visit the Lady Bug web site. There is quite a wide range of choices.
Pests can’t develop resistance to their natural enemies. But they can to pesticides! — Camille Cormier
A Few Words About Predators
Fall is upon us and it will soon be time to bring houseplants that spent the summer back indoors. But whiteflies, thrips, spider mites and other enemies can travel on your plants and wreak havoc on them indoors where they have no natural enemies. This year, in addition to giving your plants a thorough clean up before you bring them in, Lady Bug Phytoprotection invites you to supply them with natural predators. These invaluable helpers can ensure the health of your plants by protecting them against pest insects and mites.
There are quite a number of natural predators. Here are a few:
Encarsia formosa: a micro-wasp that controls whiteflies (white flies).
Neoseilulus cucumeris: A small mite that suppresses thrips and cyclamen mites.
Phytoseilulus persimilis: A red mite visible to the naked eye (most of the predators offered are microscopic) that preys on spider mites.
Amblyseius californicus: an almost microscopic mite that works against spider mites and other mites.
Nematodes: microscopic worms that are applied to the soil to control thrips and fungus gnats.
And many others.
The site offers detailed information on each predator species, when and how to apply them, the conditions necessary to use them successfully, and more. In addition, Ms. Cormier remains available to answer all your specific questions.
Lady Bug: she may be just the solution you have been waiting for in controlling your plants’ enemies!
People who place an order on the Lady Bug Phytoprotection site will be given a 10% discount after entering the following promotional code: GARDENER10. The promotion will be in effect between September 14 and September 28, 2021.
For more information and to place an order: https://ladybugmtl.ca
Consult the Facebook page of the company “Lady Bug Phytoprotection” https://www.facebook.com/Lady-Bug-Phytoprotection-101465202283538 for all the information regarding predator orders, products, news about the company, announcing new drop-off points and more!
And finally, the Facebook group “Lady Bug Phytoprotection—Exchange Group” https://www.facebook.com/groups/378994473265000 which is a private group where members can share advice on biological control, publish photos of pests for identification assistance, etc. It is a space for discussion for members who want to register.
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Fantastic! I tried to source A. californicus in the past and the only supplier I found, Biobest (pictured in your article), only sold very large quantities. Very happy to learn about this source right in my town! Thanks!
Ladybirds are also available from The Green Gardener in UK! On facebook and internet.
I agree with Granny. Am always looking for something to control aphids indoors and mealybugs.
Too bad it isn’t available outside Quebec. Maybe someday ?
It may well be. This kind of business seems to be popping up in many places.