Posted: Monday 22 July 2013
by Adam Pasco

There have been some discussions on the forum, from people who haven’t noticed any ladybirds this year.

Ladybird larvae

In the war against pests, it often takes a while for a natural balance between pest and pest predators to be achieved. It stands to reason that it's the pests (and their damage) that we notice first. We then wonder whether any action needs to be taken, or whether we can leave things to nature.

There have been some discussions on the forum, from people who haven’t noticed any ladybirds this year. Well, I've plenty in my garden in the East Midlands.

To be more accurate, it's actually ladybird larvae that I've spotted for the past few weeks. But these must have hatched from eggs laid by elusive adults, which I haven't spotted.

While most people learn to recognise adult ladybirds from an early age (well, I am old enough to remember Ladybird books from my childhood), there are probably many who may not recognise their larvae.

It's important to be able to spot friend from foe. If I didn't know better, perhaps I'd think the ladybird larvae I spotted on my dahlias this week was a nasty pest. Actually, it's helping me out by eating an infestation of blackfly. I've also seen plenty of hoverfly around, and the larvae of these beneficial insects also enjoy eating aphids.

There are plenty of ladybird larvae and their resulting pupae all over my golden hop. While the new golden shoots and foliage looks glorious, I do class the golden hop as something of a sacrificial plant. By July, the underside of the leaves always get covered by expanding colonies of greenfly, and it's these that lure in ladybirds to feed and breed.

Without pests in your garden, you won't attract the predators that feed on them. My golden hop acts as something of a ladybird nursery. Ladybird larvae quickly grow as they feed for a few weeks before they pupate. After which, they transform into fully-fledged adult ladybirds, and continue eating pests and producing more offspring.

Perhaps people who hadn't spotted ladybirds earlier in July have pest-free gardens, and so no food for them to feed on. Or did they resort to spraying pesticides earlier in summer to control pests, rather than wait for nature to take control?

The warm weather is certainly encouraging aphids to multiply and spread on my roses, apple trees and many other plants. But I'm reassured, as the population of ladybirds in my garden is also increasing, they’re up to the job at hand.

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Ladybirds
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Sprecks 03/08/2013 at 15:01

no ladybirds in our garden near Bognor Regis, West Sussex... we need them... where have they all got to?

Alina W 03/08/2013 at 15:05

The cold spring with a few warm spells has knocked them back - they came out of hibernation, but there was nothing for them to feed on, so many died.

Cherry3 03/08/2013 at 16:19

Come to think of it , we havent seen any ladybirds either----but have plenty of butterflies & bees---no shortage here.


Maud is in the garden 04/08/2013 at 11:37

Have only seen one on my allotment feasting on the blackfly on the runnerbeans. Im not for from you Sprecks, just along the coast in Worthing

Stacey Docherty 04/08/2013 at 14:26

You can have some of mine they are everywhere!!!! Swarms of them in Berkshire!!

See more comments...