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Posts Tagged ‘looking 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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Last week I managed to get on my allotment, it was Mother’s Day to be precise, the weather was glorious and the birds were singing – it was perfect! My first job was to tidy up and weed the beds now that they have dried out sufficiently I was delighted to find lots and lots of Ladybirds which have successfully survived our mild winter this is great news but unfortunately our native Ladybirds are under threat from another Ladybird, it is called the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) and is the most invasive Ladybird on earth, arriving in Britain in the Summer of 2004, it is originally from Asia and was introduced to North America in 1988 and then Europe as a biological pest control where it has now widespread.

Group of harlequin (succinea) ladybirds

Photograph from the UK Ladybird Survey website showing Harlequin Ladybirds

In Britain we have 46 species of Ladybirds although 19 of these are not recognisable as Ladybirds as they are not bright coloured or Spotty. The Harlequin Ladybird has over 100 different colour pattern variations making it very hard to identify, one of the easiest ways to recognize it is by its size it can measure 5-8mm in length which is larger than most of our native Ladybirds the best way to accurately identify it is to have a good Ladybird guide. The problem with the Harlequin Ladybirds is that instead of producing a single generation of young per year like our native species they can produce two or more, a single female can lay over a thousand eggs. Harlequin Ladybirds have a more varied diet and larger appetite and will eat the eggs and larvae of butterflies and moths, small insects and alarmingly other Ladybirds as well as their staple diet of aphids.

How can we help?

The spread of the Harlequin Ladybird in Britain is being closely monitored through the Harlequin Ladybird Survey www.harlequin-survey.org who would like Schools, Groups and members of the public to send in their sightings of Harlequin Ladybirds, this can be done through their website or by post, there is even an app available to download with a guide to help you to identify Ladybirds and then to report your sightings. If you find any type of Ladybird you can send in your sighting as above to the UK Ladybird Survey www.ladybird-survey.org who will use your information to help the conservation of all our British Ladybirds.

This Easter (and as often as you can) why not go on a Ladybird hunt in your garden, local park, on a walk or on holiday and send in your sightings to www.harlequin-survey.org or www.ladybird-survey.org, you could take a photograph of them or even draw a picture when you get home, everyone loves Ladybirds especially children.

Happy Hunting

Gill

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