Urban wildlife

Ladybird ladybird…

There’s something delightful about a ladybird.

There’s something delightful about a ladybird.

Whether it’s landed on your sleeve or is crawling on your car door: once you’ve spotted one, everything else in the world fades away. In that moment, nothing is as important as making sure that that ladybird is safely relocated. Ever so gently, back to it’s leafy domain.

I spotted this one crawling on one of my pot plants. It must have been disappointed to find that I am a terrible gardner – the pot held only the skeletal remains of yet another plant that I had failed. I, on the other hand, was pretty chuffed.

Fungus-eating ladybug

A quick spot of Googling revealed that this was a ‘Fungus Eating Ladybird’. Native to Australia, its appetite for mould and mildew places it forever in gardener’s good graces. In fact, most ladybirds are great for the garden, with only a few nasties that you should look out for. In their short lives, the ferocious ladybird can devour as many as 2,500 aphids. So lay off the pesticides and let nature do the work.

As for the ‘lady’ aspect, obviously not all ladybirds meet this criteria. It’s pretty hard to tell the sexes apart unless you’re an entomologist. For you and I, the only tried and true method is a touch crude: males mount the females. Once they get going you’ve 15–60 minutes to catch them in the act. Perhaps a pursuit best left for only the most dedicated of ladybird enthusiasts.

The rest of us can just be content with the occasional lucky sighting. Because nothing brightens up your day like a ladybird.

Want to know more?
If you are a ladybird die-hard, consider visiting this website http://www.ento.csiro.au/biology/ladybirds/aboutLadybirds1.htm. Not only will you find all the information you could possibly ever want, but they have a very cool “virtual microscope”, getting you up close and personal with these teeny-tiny insects.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 5.31.15 pm
Screen grab from CSIRO website

Or, try this site for tips on encouraging ladybirds to your yard

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