Ladybugs Picnic

I left many plants to go to seed this year and entered a wonderful new world…

Seed saving Baby Spinach

Seed saving Baby Spinach

I was passing my Spinach Mustard, gone to seed, when I noticed a decent colony of aphids on the tips of several stems. “Yuk!”, I said and quickly clipped off the offending pieces and threw them in the nearby green waste bin.

I inspected the plant and, within a matter of minutes, I was head down in the bin retrieving the aphid-ridden stems…I had discovered that the cavalry was already here and I had just dumped their supper.

Ladybirds on Dutch Iris

Ladybirds on Dutch Iris

ladybugs and aphids

ladybirds and aphids

ladybird yellow

ladybird yellow

Everywhere I looked, there were different coloured ladybird beetles (Coccinellidae). Although we, generally call these ladybirds or ladybird beetles in Australia, they go by many common names across the globe – ladybugs, lady beetles, or the less common – God’s cow, ladyclock, lady cow, and lady fly.

There are literally thousands of different beetles in this family. Most are beneficial though a few eat plants. I remember my Dad saying, “watch out for the 28 Spotters, they eat the potato plants”. According to Gardening Australia’s fact sheet, there are four common species of ladybird in Australia:

  1. The common spotted ladybird is bright orange with black dots on its back. They’re voracious predators of aphids, scale insects and mites. Adults will consume 2,500 aphids during their life.
  2. The mealy bug ladybird is one of the most celebrated examples of biological control. In 1891 these ladybirds were exported to the United States, where they saved the Californian citrus industry from the mealy bug plague.
  3. The fungus eating ladybird has very bold black and yellow colouration. Both adults and larvae feed on mildew fungus, which is a really common problem in gardens. {The yellow ladybird I found was obviously one of these. We have had some terrible problems with moulds and fungus after a very wet summer last year, so I’m pretty happy about him being here.}
  4. The villain is the 28 spotted or leaf eating ladybird. They’re easy to identify. Adults are up to 1cm long, a light orange colour and they have 28 spots. Both adults and larvae feed on a range of plants – cabbage, potato and bean family are preferred foods.

So, I left the aphids alone and enjoyed the ladybirds while my plant’s seeds matured. Not only did I enjoy these gorgeous little creatures, many more creatures made my wicking bed their habitat (beneficial and pest species).

I even made a ladybird habitat for my grand-daughter as a present for her birthday. I am looking for a photo so I can share this with you. She was allowed to have them only if she let them go in the garden as soon as she had a good look at them. After all, their short lives (only a few days) would be better spent laying eggs for the next generation to do their good works.

Bug Catcher temporary ladybug habitat

Bug Catcher temporary ladybug habitat

1,2,3, 4,5,6, 7,8,9, 10,11,12 and they all had fun at the ladybugs picnic
They played jump rope but the rope it broke, so they sat around telling knock-knock jokes
Ladybugs 12 at the ladybugs picnic. {Yes, I am slightly warped, thanks Sesame Street 🙂 My grand-daughter liked it though}

ladybird eggs

ladybird eggs

My wicking bed didn’t get another crop for some time, but I nearly get more fun from leaving nature to it’s own devices and simply observing. Never fails to bring a smile to my face.

As a Permaculturalist from way back, I look for a yield. However, I have a strong belief that peace and joy are yields (and I got plenty of seeds which became Christmas presents to those in my family that are garden inclined).


3 thoughts on “Ladybugs Picnic

    • Hi Gem,
      I really enjoyed making the ladybird house and hope I (or my daughter) can locate a picture. If not, I will sketch it and post instructions and what I learned, soon.
      Lovely to have you visit.

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