ladybird larva

Ladybird larvae

Nature has a wonderful way of providing and ladybirds have evolved so that their lifecycle coincides with the lifecycle of the creatures that they predate (eat).  These round, spotted, red-winged beetles are a wonderful sight emerging in spring at just the right time to decimate early populations of greenfly and other aphids. But do you know what their larval stage looks like? If you see the black and orange-segmented larvae running around your garden you could be forgiven for thinking that these were garden pests. These are the ladybird larvae.

They will pupate in summer and emerge as the familiar red spotted beetle in late summer, autumn, before overwintering somewhere dry.

Ladybirds. Image: Martin Mulchinock

Ladybird know how

Before you reach for the pest spray consider a few things.

  • Not everything unfamiliar in the garden is a pest. Ladybird larvae are a great example. They look pretty weird, but each one devours a massive number of garden bugs, helping to keep your garden pest free. Ladybirds are the gardener’s friend and will be affected by garden pest sprays just like the bees will, if you choose to spray your garden plants. Insecticides kill all insects; they don’t know the difference between garden friends or foes.
  • Every pest is a meal for something and unless it’s really out of control, it is rarely a problem in the garden.
  • Observe the problem closely and act when the problem is getting unbearable.
  • A flash of aphids on the roses will attract not only ladybirds to feed, but also blue tits and long tail tits that add a whole new dimension to the garden.

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