7 Jul 2013
I've been a bit worried by the lack of any ladybird sightings in the garden, possibly another indicator of this year's late arrival of spring. Normally I'd be seeing them and the blue/orange larvae on almost every plant well before now. Certainly, in past years, my fennel has hosted lots of ladybird activity followed by clusters of bright orange eggs. I've been checking carefully (and certainly before I tidy any trimmings back into the compost) but have seen only one or two ladybirds and no larvae in the entire garden. Until this week ...
The night before last I watched this ladybird making its way from the tips of a broad bean plant down towards a small cluster of black aphids. (I'd squished the rest on the previous evening.) A solitary ant scuttled around it, biting and attacking, protecting its source of honeydew (the sap from the plant goes through the aphid and out the other end); the ladybird was forced to retreat rapidly to the top of the plant where I captured this photo.
Having got my image, I then despatched the ant, leaving the ladybird restaurant open for business.
I've since seen several ladybird larvae on the herbs - it's worth growing fennel as this is one of their favourite homes due to the hollow stems in autumn/winter. In fact, I've just had the good idea of transplanting a couple of the self-sown seedling to the back of the fruit tree border - there's been plenty of aphids on the tips of the fruit trees, both this year and last!