Yes, this is a thing. When I posed the question to a few close gardening friends, I got either or both of these responses: “Huh?” and “NO WAY!” However, I know someone who does this and says it works.
While chatting with a houseplant hoarding collecting friend of mine, Johanna, about how people will do anything to get rid of houseplant pests, she mentioned she had ladybugs indoors for pest control and had just found a nymph, which showed they were breeding. Naturally, I was intrigued. “Tell me more!” I urged.
It turns out Johanna initially brought some jumping spider indoors from her garden; they don’t build webs and, she says, “keep to themselves.” After that, she ordered green lacewings—notorious aphid eaters—but was disappointed when these simply vanished. Finally, she ordered 1500 ladybugs (the minimum order from Arbico Organics), and after distributing some to friends, released them in her closed off plant room/study (shown above). At first, it was a bit disconcerting. “That’s a metric fuckton of ladybugs in a confined indoor space,” she notes.
But after a day or two, she reports they settled down and got to work. She’s also introduced a few predatory mites to control spider mites on her alocasia collection. All of these insects were ordered online (the primary plant/plant supplies shopping method of choice for the new houseplant devotees).
Johanna is the first to admit that hers is not a scientific trial, but she’s made some observations that lead her to think at least the ladybugs are working. She saw a mealybug on her calathea lancifolia only because a group of ladybugs had congregated near it. She’s also noticed that ladybugs seems especially drawn to her hoya compacta, which is known to hide pests in its curly foliage. Finally, she says that the few fungus gnats she had disappeared.
Follow Johanna and her houseplant adventures @lakeeffectplantlover (Instagram).
This is all academic as far as I am concerned. My husband would look upon a household insect release in the same way he would look upon welcoming the ten plagues of Egypt.
What about it though? I did search the Garden Professors Facebook group, and could find no discussion of this. It will not surprise many that eco-model Summer Rayne Oaks has talked about this in her blog, Homestead Brooklyn. (Oakes has 670 indoor plants.) And, as many have pointed out, we’re already sharing our homes with more insects than we want to acknowledge.
Photos by Johanna Dominguez