Lady bugs are natural predators of aphids, but in long cool springslike the one we've been having, lady bugs lie dormant in the groundfor so long that by the time they awake, the aphid colonies arealready well established and defended by ants. I saw a lady bug crawlup the trunk of my apple tree, and out one of the green new limbs(where aphids love to gather because more sap is directed toward newgrowth). But then the lady bug was blocked by the soldier ant. Theworker ants' line coiled around the young limb in order to avoid thestandoff between the soldier and the bright red beetle. Finally,deterred, the lady bug turned around and climbed down off the tree.
Frustrated, I clipped the curled leaf off with garden pruners andtossed it down into the storm drain in my street. There were othercolonies higher up in the tree which i could not reach. I think todayI will get a ladder out and clip them off as well. The aphids weakennew growth very badly, and because apple trees flower and fruit onlast years new growth, the aphids will negatively impact the harvestnext year. Seeing as how I am trying to save this old overgrown appletree, I don't think I can tolerate these little gated communitiesanymore. If clipping doesn't help, I may be forced to introduce anarmy of lady bugs, or worse still, poison.
This, in a way, is what I imagine neo-cons think about when they think about Iran.
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