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Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home

I actually intended to write about this weeks ago. However, there are still some beetles around, so it’s not too late. :D

I’ve had this rhyme running through my head now for weeks, every time I venture into a certain part of the garden. I only remember the first two lines from my childhood, so I’ve used the first one for this post, and I’m saving the second one for the next post. ;D

Transverse ladybirds (Coccinella transversalis) with aphidsI have always been fascinated by ladybirds (or ladybugs, or lady beetles). I think they’re so cute, especially these ones! And then I learned that at least some species (including my favourite) are voracious little predators, and that made them even more fascinating! Some of those particular ladybird species just love eating aphids. And I love that they love eating aphids, because I don’t love having aphids eating my plants. ;)

Minute two-spotted ladybird (Diomus notescens)We have had a lot of aphids on our poor little lemon tree in its pot under the pergola, and while white oil and hand-picking both work, they both have their drawbacks, especially for lazy gardeners like us… but the ladybirds wouldn’t go and do anything either. It wasn’t that they weren’t around; we saw them in the vegetable garden, doing a great job on the aphids there, defending the developing coriander seeds and the other plants that had gone to seed. I tried gently encouraging them, picking them up and placing them on the lemon tree, but they would fly straight off and return to the garden.

Yellow shouldered ladybird (Apolinus lividigaster) - topFinally, I had a brainwave (it took me a while!) DH helped me move the lemon tree, in its pot, to the vege garden. We placed it right next to the popular coriander plant, making sure the leaves of both plants were touching each other, and waited to see what would happen.

I was so excited to find that the ladybirds were quite happy to migrate to the lemon tree while it was in this location, and while I wasn’t forcing them to move. The aphids were rapidly polished off, and the ladybirds seemed pretty happy about the arrangement too.

Potato ladybird (Henosepilachna vigintioctopunctata/vigintisexpunctata)Now, of course, I’m not as fond of the plant-eating ladybirds - at the moment, we have a lot of the kind that love the solanaceae family - but the tomatoes have been holding up pretty well against them, and they seem to prefer the weeds of the family anyway. This is where leaving some weeds as sacrificial plants comes in handy - we just have to make sure we pull them up before they go to seed and spread! They will eat the leaves of other plants too (this one is pictured on a bean plant) but they especially like solanaceae.

Permalink Saturday, 22 November, 2008 4:09 pm, by Mamma Email , 454 words, Categories: Backyard, Fauna, Insects, Beetles, Ladybird ,