The best known and best-loved of all garden insects, these bright beetles can fly, so will easily find colonies of blackfly and greenfly (aphids) on your plants. Although some of the 48 species of ladybirds in the UK eat fungi rather than aphids, those we recognise as ladybirds, with spotted red or yellow wing cases, are greedy carnivores and some can eat 5,000 aphids during their lifetime! The red two-spot and seven-spot ladybirds are the most often seen in our gardens, although the introduced harlequin ladybird with very variable colouring is increasingly common, and difficult to identify. There’s some evidence that it’s squeezing out native species, but since it also munches on aphids it’s hardly a pest. Adult ladybirds are easy to spot but have you seen their strange larvae, which actually eat the most aphids as they develop and grow? They’re grey or black, with orange spots along their sides, like tiny crocodiles, often holding an aphid aloft in its jaws. How to help them Adult ladybirds overwinter in colonies and come out to mate and lay eggs in spring. An insect hotel or bundle of twigs pushed into the eaves under a roof where it’s sheltered and dry will give them winter sanctuary.
Hungry ladybirds will devour aphids A la m y