7 Jul 2013

Nature watch

Ladybird

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!

6 comments:

  1. I've seen very few ladybirds on the plot this year, and many people have commented that they've seen none. I think that's due to the cold spring, and is obviously worrying especially as there seems to be plenty of black and greenfly. Perhaps this warm weather will help, I certainly hope so. Flighty xx

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    1. Oh me too, Flighty. I'd normally be squishing the aphids to protect the plants but I'm now anxious that if I do that, any ladybirds will be deprived of food! Let's hope that in a few weeks we'll be seeing them out in force!

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  2. I saw some ladybirds earlier in the year but none since. I hope the cold spring we've had hasn't killed them all off.

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    1. Hi Jo, I've become so accustomed to ladybirds being around that it took a while to realise that they weren't this summer. I'm doing a bit of research to make sure I'm doing all I can to help. I do hope, like you, that the cold spring hasn't reduced their numbers too much.

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  3. No Caro, you have reminded me that I haven't seen any ladybirds yet, but last year at this time, I had seen plenty. I hope they are around and that I see them soon.

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    1. Yes, let's hope so, Pauline. I think they may be getting round to mating at the moment, especially since the weather has warmed. They should certainly love your beautiful garden, particularly your beautiful poppies shown to us this morning!

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Caro x

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