the plum tree war

We love our Royal Mountain Blue Plum Tree. Love love love. Sun warm sweetness, tiny, and gorgeous colors, they are awesome treats come Fall. And living in a zone 4 growing area, that’s saying something!

Over the years we have had little garden losses here and there, nothing major. Weather, clay like soil, and garden pests keep me on my gardeners toes! But it’s all part of the dirt game really. If you play in the dirt, and grow anything, you have to contend with it all. And that’s what makes it so great.

But I still, after all of the years, refuse to try and cohabitate with ants. Ants, my garden nemesis!

Aphids generally don’t bother me too much, they curl some leaves, drop some honeydew, but nothing life shattering, We have never had a plant die from aphids, and they are easy enough to manage. But it’s the ants that farm them, feed them, keep them barely alive, to suck the honeydew off of them that drive me crazy. It’s like a cannibalistic slavery Twilight Zone happening in my happy place, my garden. If it was helping my trees or plants in anyway I wouldn’t mind at all, but it makes things worse actually, which makes it not fun. The aphids are held prisoner to each leaf, the ants systematically feeding away, and then I have a garden problem that can go south quickly.

So, if we are lucky to have a spring/early summer like this year, cool and wet, that ants don’t become too active right away.

The aphids showed up in our plum tree about two weeks ago, right when our plums started to show some form. An ant here and there, but no mas slavery troupes just yet.

So while we had a cool light rain today, we released our secret weapons, the death squad, the beheaders, the ever so feared, Lady Bugs!

Lady bugs have been our garden friends since forever, we love them. But we have to get them out on the trees before the ants are active. Once the ants are farming the aphids, no luck, no chance of any aphid beheading by the Lady’s! Ants will terrorize and kill these red gems once their farming business is in full swing.

So we started our own garden war today, right in our plum tree. As I type, there is sure death going on out there. These lady bugs came from Wells Nevada, and I am thinking they were pretty thirsty and hungry, at least I hope so! I am crossing my fingers for fat, plump, satisfied lady bugs in the morning, and from here on out all summer! If they do a good job on the aphids, we won’t have ants in our plum tree, which will make for a happy tree, and a happy me this year, woop! The ants can move on, move on I say…!

6,000 Lady Bugs, millions of aphids, happy feeding. Here is to a healthy and natural garden, with healthy plants and killer Lady Bugs! And besides, there is something so awesome about releasing Lady Bugs withe your children, they can’t stop smiling.







WELCOME! Come eat in our plum tree!



Story wasn’t sure what was in those bags!



By Fall these plums will be the size of a small egg, chartreuse to light orange on the inside, and blueish on the outside!



Ocean was not impressed by this release. She wanted to get back to ‘pond business’. What’s the point of bugs, you can’t ‘dig them’. Dirt is better!



Check out the Lady Bug that flew right to the shade garden, on of the nicest places to hang on a hot day!

Cheers, Nancy


17 Comments Add yours

  1. mtwaggin says:

    How fun is THAT!!! Ladybugs are one of my favorite bugs ever. Ants are why I do not have peonies!!!!

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Sherry, someone once told me that ants are necessary to help ‘open’ peonies buds, they eat the sap off. Is this not true?

  2. Marie Tanner says:

    It’s amazing that they can gow and sell Lady Bugs in such volumn. Here’s to healthy plants and trees.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Mom, they had bags with 15,000 in them, commercial growers buy them by the 10’s of thousands for natural pest control

  3. wow Ive never seen so many lady bugs in my life…..we have hardly any here in Ireland. I used to see a lot more when I was a kid…..a long time ago. Great blog

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Hi Yvonne, we have lots of them here, but sometimes we need more! Garden reinforcements! 😉

  4. Kim says:

    Plums are delicious…but I actually wish the aphids (or something!) would kill my 2 plum trees! Each year I knock out wheelbarrows full of green plums so I don’t end up with a bear (or bears) in my backyard. One year the two small trees were so prolific that I took out 10 full wheelbarrows of green fruit and STILL had several wheelbarrows full of ripe fruit to contend with. My landlord won’t let me cut them down so each year I have to put an electric fence on the outside of my already fenced yard to keep the bears out. It’s a war…me against the plums, and I seem lose every year. I’m already starting the battle…next week begins the depluming of the tree!

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      you have a war I would contend with! Plum Jam, Plum Tarts, Plum everything! 😉 Why don’t you let your neighbors or family come pick? Do the bears get to the trees before they are all ripe?

      1. Kim says:

        Here, everyone has a plum tree, or an apple tree, in their yard. Homegrown plums and apples are like garden zucchini’s…you can’t give them away, and you better lock your door at work or you just might find a whole bunch sitting on your seat by the end of the day. Plums and apple trees grow feral/wild around here too, even untended trees produce fruit that tastes pretty good.

        And yes, the bears walk around and ‘check’ trees to see if they are ripe yet and then make rounds to hit all they can near ripening time. But they’ll take them bitter and partly ripe too. It only takes one night for my yard fence to be partly flattened, most of the branches broken and me worrying that I’m going to let the dogs out to potty in the yard after dark only for there to be a bear in the yard with them. Having the deer in there eating the plums every night is bad enough…it’s even worse when the bear biologist has a bear in her own back yard! HA!

        I wish I could bring you some of my plums! They are super tasty 🙂

  5. 🙂 Go, ladybug army! In my garden, the war is against the Japanese Beetles. Since they are invasive, nothing really wants to eat them. The bag traps use pheromones that attract even more beetles. I end up hand-picking them off my plants and flinging them into a jar of soapy water. I suspect the Japanese Beetles are begining to speak in hushed tones about “the Hand”!

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      I don’t think we have those but we might. We have a ton of bettle kill pines but I don’t know the name of that beetle. When beetles speak in hushed tones we should all be afraid! hahaha

  6. nutsfortreasure says:

    I love the ones here at my place they used to live within my walls and come out when the coal stove was cranking on a bitter day. Now that home has been filled to the brim with insulation I fear they maybe all dead. 😦 I will order some if I see noen>

    Great post!

    I used to haul semi loads of US Mail and these were always placed on my passenger seat to be delivered by the mailmen.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      We have some that are around our front door right now, I think they are trying to work out their new surroundings for sure.

      1. nutsfortreasure says:


  7. dorannrule says:

    I used to love lady bugs. I still do – if they are real lady bugs. There have been masses imported here to Virginia that are not the real thing. These imposters come inside in the fall and cluster by the hundreds in the corners of the walls, behind pictures, etc. to spend the winter. Admittedly, these are not the real beneficial critters that you have, but I cringe when I see the first sign of them inside.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      the lady bugs are doing their job so far so I think they are the real thing, I hope. Our curled leaves are uncurling, and no ant army’s!

  8. Reblogged this on Charlene's Bags & Embroidery and commented:
    I bought my ladybugs at Planet Natural last week. I hope they are staying around as I have lots of aphids.

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