Friend or foe?

Posted: Tuesday 27 August 2013
by James Alexander-Sinclair

Those of you who have attended BBC Gardeners' World Live at the NEC, Birmingham in the last few years may well have an advantage in the following quiz.


Those of you who have attended BBC Gardeners' World Live at the NEC, Birmingham in the last few years may well have an advantage in the following quiz. The deputy editor of Gardeners’ World magazine, his supreme loveliness David Hurrion, asked this question during one of his presentations:

"See the creature above? Friend or foe?"

It looks as if it means business and the gut reaction of the unknowing would be to squidge it, smartish. This would be a mistake as it is the larva of a ladybird roaming around looking for aphids to nosh. This is one of 12 I found on a single dahlia, so they are going to make short work of the various blackfly that are also making a home on said dahlia.

Isn’t it lucky that I didn’t spray the plant, for to do so would not only have destroyed the ladybird larvae, but also their food source. That is how a healthy ecosystem should work. I do crush a lot of aphids, but I know that I will never reach them all so there is something for ladybirds, hoverflies and even wasps to eat.

The larva pictured above is actually the offspring of a harlequin ladybird, not our native seven-spot. Harlequins are native to Kazakhstan and have spread across the world in the past 30 years. They were exported as aphid control but, as so often with this sort of species exportation, it has gone a bit wrong and they predate on our native ladybird.

So on one hand we have a useful aphid eating machine, but, on the other, a predatory interloper.

I ask again, friend or foe?

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oldchippy 27/08/2013 at 18:16

James I haven't seen a single Ladybird in my garden this year,I saw some when opening the windows in spring but where they have gone is a mystery .

flowering rose 27/08/2013 at 18:55

I have just spotted ladybirds today as my flowers have all of sudden aphids,they appeared from nowhere.

granma 27/08/2013 at 20:07

Ive seen the odd ladybird  but not aphids yet - but will keep check as the two usualy work together . 

First the aphids then the ladybirds .-- But old chippy you could be the lucky one , maybe you aint got aphids

granma 27/08/2013 at 20:13



Garden Maniac 29/08/2013 at 20:01

Friend - Ladybird Larvae - of any type - I also have not seen a single ladybird in my garden this year, which really worries me, as it has previously been a haven for them. No yellows, no reds of any variety. REALLY worrying. I try to encourage all wildlife, and include 'homes' for them over the winter; I don't use any preventer substances / killers of any type,organic or otherwise, but apart from seeing 2 larvae only, no ladybirds. Oldchippy is correct! What are we doing wrong, is this a National trend or can we still do more to encourage them (PS - I have plenty of greenfly!).

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