LADYBIRDS

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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

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