Today was a blustery rainy day. I was being blown all over the place and felt cold and damp, so I decided it was best to stay in a polytunnel (a greenhouse made of polythene) at work potting up plants.
There wasn’t much sign of life outside anyway as the birds where trying to shelter in the hedges and trees and the bugs and bees were sheltering where they could, in the nooks and crannies within walls, log piles and in the polytunnel with me.
As I walked around the large polytunnel I saw a variety of spiderlings hiding within the plant leaves, a bumblebee keeping warm in the crease of a folded up parasol; but even more fascinating was spotting different life cycle stages of ladybirds amongst the leaves.
Most people can recognise a ladybird, they are probably the most identifiable bug in our gardens. Less familiar to some however, are their eggs, pupae and larvae, which some may unfortunately mistaken for garden pests. Please don’t hurt them though as they are a gardeners best friend, as both the larvae and the adults eat lots of aphids.
Spotting lots of these lovely creatures today, I decided that I would share with you the life cycle of a ladybird.
About May the male and female ladybirds mate.
Females then lay about 200 eggs underneath leaves which are usually infested with aphids.
These eggs then hatch into larvae and a food source is available straight way. These larvae can munch through an awful lot of aphids.
After about 3 weeks the larvae will turn into the pupae stage.
As this happens the larvae start to shrink into a hunched shape.
Over the following week, the pupae becomes duller and shriveled,
before a ladybird emerges from within.
These new adults now start feeding on those pesky aphids again till October. They will then overwinter till the following spring, were they will start gobbling up all those aphids again.
So next time you are in the garden look out for these amazing creatures.
There is a great little ladybird larvae identification chart here
If you do find these strange-looking beasties in your garden, don’t squash them! Ladybirds and their larvae are great friends to gardeners and are extremely happy to eat all the aphids.