If you grow lupines in your garden or have them growing nearby, you may have noticed clusters of fuzzy, grayish-blue bugs on the stems in early spring. You may have also noticed ladybugs on your lupines. The bluish-gray bugs are lupine aphids. While lupines are their primary host, they will sometimes infest other plants as well. I spotted several "weeds" along the side of the road loaded with lupine aphids a few days ago. Fortunately, they have not found their way to my garden bed, but they are on an adjacent property.
If you are wondering why the ladybug is hanging out, you might be surprised to learn that she is after a tasty meal. Ladybugs devour aphids and keep coming back for more.
Are lupine aphids harmful?
The lupine aphids pictured above cover the stems of the lupine plants and suck the juice from the plant. If the infestation is severe, they will damage or kill the plant. They may also inject a virus into the stem that will cause your lupines to wilt. If infestations are light, you may not see damage in your lupines. The aphids hang around, even after the blooms are gone, and feed on the lupine plant until midsummer. When the population gets too great, they will develop wings and fly to a new host plant. Typically, aphids are in flight in late summer or early fall in my area of Maine.
Ladybugs to the Rescue!
If you want to get rid of lupine aphids, try ordering ladybugs and letting them loose near the lupine plants. You can purchase 1500 ladybugs on Amazon or a similar site for under $10.00. To encourage the ladybugs to stick around, consider purchasing Duncraft's Ladybug house and place a small sponge soaked in sugar water inside the house to attract the ladybugs. This convenient little house provides shelter for the ladybugs and even gives them a place to overwinter when cool weather arrives.
I hope you enjoyed the photos of ladybugs and aphids on lupines today and found the information useful.
Until Next Time . . . HAPPY GARDENING!