An order of 1500 Live Ladybugs is about $9 — they take care of aphids and other pests that thrive on flowering perennials vegetables and roses. (Aphids are brutal on tomatoes). Ladybugs are general insect predators — beyond the Aphids, they also feed on Moth eggs, Mites, Scales, Thrips, Leaf Hoppers, Mealybugs, Chinch Bugs, Asparagus Beetle larvae, Whitefly.
While we aren’t organic gardeners, I love the idea of a small red and black army working at my behest consuming pests. They also produce a terrible tasting chemical, so they are (mostly) safe from other predatory insects and birds.
And just in case they red & black menace isn’t sufficient, we also order a few Praying Mantis egg cases ($12). They need a few weeks of heat to hatch, and by the end of the summer one or two of the larger ones makes their way to the door of the house. They are way cool looking little beasties.
The next thing I am interested in my army of creatures is going to be a bat house to control mosquitoes. I am not sure what is the ideal design, but I hope to find something shortly. Any suggestions would be appreciated.