Everyday when I get the lettuce from the garden I find these tiny visitors in the leaves.
Gently they are transported back into the garden.
Ladybirds are generally loved and cherished by many. Also called ladybird beetles, ladybeetles and ladybugs. They are a spot of bright, cheerful colour amongst the leaves of plants in the garden.
They are very welcome in the garden, as they will eat up all your aphids, adults consume 2,500 aphids during their lifetime, scale insects, mites and other enemies of your plants. Ladybirds also eat flower nectar, honeydew from aphids, or plant material including fungus.
©Photos/ my garden Ts
To attract ladybirds to your garden you need to provide them with food. Avoid using chemicals to control garden insects as ladybirds will arrive to do it for you.
Australia is home to over 500 species of ladybirds. The familiar ones are bright orange or yellow with patterned shells but there are also many other varieties that are black or brown and hairy! Ladybirds are most active in warm weather, and adults can fly long distances to find food or a mate. Ladybird copulation typically lasts for 15-60 minutes but can extend for a few hours or even days.
Ladybirds start life as an egg, go through three larval stages, turn into a pupa and finally become an adult. Some species may have two, three or more generations per year. Ladybird larvae look very different to adults and are confused with other bugs or even scale. Leave little unknown bugs in the garden as they could grow up to be gorgeous ladybirds.
To escape from predators such as birds or even curious humans, ladybirds slide to the edge of the leaf and drop to the ground. If you put your hand under the leaf as you approach, the ladybird could land into your hand. It will hide its legs and antenna under its body, but once it feels safe it will walk around on your hand or fly away.
Many different varieties of Australian ladybirds - they come in lots of different colours and pattern variations. Top to bottom, left to right: Traverse Ladybird, Southern Ladybird, Traverse Ladybird, Common Spotted Ladybird, Tortoise-shelled Ladybird, Fungus Eating Ladybird. Photos, left to right, top row: Arthur Chapman, Donald Hobern, Bill and Mark Bell. Bottom row: All John Tann.
Lure ladybirds to your garden by making a concoction of honey, water and brewers yeast. Spread it in the garden and ladybirds will come to visit.
The scientific family name for ladybirds is Coccinellidae - which is probably derived from the diminutive of the Latinized Greek word 'Kokkos', meaning a seed or berry (like their rounded shape!). Or it could also come from the Latin Coccinus, meaning scarlet colour.