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Posts Tagged ‘gardening for ladybirds’

Is it me or are there suddenly a lot of Ladybirds, when I bring in the washing I unknowingly bring in with it a couple of these delightful insects, I also found a Ladybird larvae on the washing machine, they are grey and grub like and not very pretty to look at, they don’t resemble a Ladybird and if you didn’t know what they are you might be tempted to squash them.

Ladybird Larvae

Ladybird larvae

In Britain there are 46 species of Ladybirds, 19 species are dull in appearance and do not look at all like the familiar brightly coloured spotted ones that we all love, the 17 spotted varieties have different colour variations, orange with black spots, black with orange spots, white with black spots, yellow with black spots or brown with white spots and also different numbers of spots 2, 7, 11, 14, 18, 16, 22 and 24.

So why are there suddenly a lot of ladybirds?

They are this years newly hatched Ladybirds, during August they emerge from their pupae and then feed up on lots of aphids to build up their reserves to see them through the Winter months (October-February) when they go into a dormant state. In March-April they will emerge and search for food (aphids), the male and female then mate and the female will lay up to 40 eggs during June-July these are bright yellow and can often be found on the underside of leaves, they hatch within 4-10 days and over the following 3-6 weeks the larvae feed on aphids and grow fast shedding their skin 3 or 4 times before attaching to a stem/leaf and becoming a pupae, during the next two weeks the pupae changes dramatically and emerges as a Ladybird in August.

Ladybird Pupae

Ladybird Pupae

Ladybirds are great for the garden the Seven Spot Ladybird can eat 5,000 aphids in its year-long life span so as well as being beautiful they are a true gardener’s friend and worth looking after, unfortunately some native UK Ladybirds species are in decline. During September Ladybirds are feeding up and looking for a safe, dry place to spend the winter why not put some Ladybird and Insect Towers around your garden, each one has a hollow centre filled with straw which provides insulation and drilled holes to allow the Ladybirds access to the inner chamber, place them somewhere warm and sheltered either amongst the flowers, in a wooded area or even in a planter.

Wildlife World Ladybird and Insect Tower

Ladybird and Insect Tower

The collective name for a group of Ladybirds is a ‘loveliness’, I cannot think of anything more fitting.

Love your environment

Gill

 

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Working together, 25 wildlife organisations have taken a very close look at our native wildlife and on 22 May 2013 published ‘The State of Nature report’. This report has alarmingly revealed that 60% of the species studied have declined with more than 1 in 10 under threat of disappearing. The decline in many of these species can be reversed by providing a clean habitat, good food and a healthy environment so that they can breed and their young survive.

Communities, Schools and individuals really can make a diference, last week the RSPB launched the ‘Giving Nature a Home’ campaign to encourage people to create habit, homes and a safe haven for their wildlife. There are many ways that you can do this here are a few suggestions.

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

The Hogitat Hedgehog House

–   Put a hedgehog house in a quiet area of your garden

–   Build a pond

Frogitat - Ceramic Frog and Toad House

Frogitat – Ceramic Frog and Toad House

–   Provide a home for frogs and toads

–   Let a corner of your garden go wild

–   Create a dead wood pile for insects

 Wooden Bat Box

–   Put up some bat boxes

–   Feed the birds regularly, provide fresh water and nest boxes

–   Plant a tree or shrub

Attractor Pack - Bumble Bees

–   Grow nectar rich flowers that benefit bees and insects

Solitary Bee Hive

–   Put up bee and insect houses

I am very passionate about wildlife, in our garden we have: a large pond which is home to many species, nestboxes (most of them occupied) on all 3 sides of the house, a bee house, hedgehog house and in the very near future I will be putting up some insect houses.

Why not take a look at your garden and see if you can make it a haven for wildlife too.

Gill

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This week I have spent quite a lot of my free time on my allotment on my hands and knees weeding, it is amazing what you see when you get that bit closer to the ground.

Whilst digging up some of the larger weeds I uncovered two types of grubs one was cream and is the larvae of the Cockchafer Beetle, the other one was grey and is the larvae of the Crane Fly or Daddy Long Legs both these grubs will happily munch their way through the roots of your plants and crops but they will also make a welcome meal for a young bird.

Above ground amongst the foliage were Ants, Spiders, Beetles and quite a lot of Ladybird larvae, which is good news, as I have not seen many Ladybirds this year.

Field Guide to Ladybirds

I began wondering about the life cycle of Ladybirds, so I had a look at my Field Guide to Ladybirds and thought I would share my finding with you.

During the winter months (October-February) Ladybirds become dormant which is known as ‘overwintering’, prefering a dry, sheltered place away from predators usually in leaf litter or bark crevices.

In March/April the Ladybirds will become active and look for aphids (greenfly) to eat.

During May the male and female Ladybirds will mate.

Ladybird Larvae

Ladybird Larvae

During June-July the females lay their eggs on the underside of leaves they look like very small yellow jellybeans, they will choose a plant that has a good supply of aphids, which the larvae will eat once they have hatched out, the larvae don’t resemble a Ladybird at all, they mainly have a long grey body with black and orange markings and have six black legs, after a couple of weeks growing the larvae start to change and after attaching themselves to a leaf become a ‘pupae’.

Ladybird Larvae

Ladybird Pupae

In August the new Ladybirds emerge from the ‘pupae’ and begin to feed on aphids, they need to eat lots of them to build up their reserves to see them through the winter.

Minibug Ladybird Tower

Minibug Ladybird Tower

Ladybird and Insect Tower

Ladybird and Insect Tower

Ladybirds really are good news for gardeners, eating lots of aphids and should be encouraged in every garden, why not put up some insect houses to give them a home for the winter.

Gill

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