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Ladybird Ladybird fly away home!



Ladybirds, also known as ladybugs, lady cows and lady beetles are from the family of beetles known as Coccinellidae. They are delightful to see in the garden, and they are of enormous benefit to the gardener.

Children love them because they are brightly coloured and cheerful. As a child, I remember finding and holding them carefully to admire and stare in wonder at them. We would say the rhyme:

Ladybird, Ladybird fly away home, Your house is on fire and your children are gone, All except one, called little Ann And she hid under the baking pan.

We thought that if you said the rhyme and they flew off, then any wish you made would come true!

I tended to notice the red ones with seven black spots but now I know there are over 5000 varieties worldwide, of all different colours and sizes - spots and stripes or plain, red, yellow, black, grey or brown.

Ladybirds, as well as being attractive are incredibly useful insects. They feed on aphids and scale insects which are regarded as pests in the garden, fields and orchards. Ladybirds have a similar life cycle to that of a butterfly - completing a metamorphosis during an 8 week period. Females lay their eggs, in large yellow clusters, usually under a leaf or stem mostly near a colony of aphids. After a week they hatch out and devour many aphids as they grow before changing into a pupa. The adult will emerge several days later and after a few days their shell hardens and they can fly.

Plants such as Lobelia, Scabiosa, Coreopsis, Lavender, Milkweed, Yarrow, Cosmos (and many more) are attractive to ladybirds thus drawing them into your garden which in turn will help your plants thrive by keeping the aphids at bay!

Ladybirds overwinter under tree bark or leaf litter, in dead plant material in your garden or in sheltered places such as your shed or greenhouse. This is why it is a good idea to avoid removing the dried stems of perennial plants until the spring.

Nature Station offer four ladybird houses that can be used for overwintering beetles and other insects:

Bug Palace Friendly Bug Barn Ladybird Tower Lucy's Ladybird House

Always lookout for ladybirds in the garden or when you are out in the countryside and take time to admire their beauty and charm.