Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a courtyard garden. Which edibles will tolerate less than ideal growing conditions. Discovering how veggies can grow in partial shade.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ladybird Heaven!

My broad beans have been infested with unsightly blackfly. I decided not to spray them, instead just put up with it and wash them off. Mother nature has turned up trumps and sent a host of natural predators in the form of ladybirds to eat them up. The first picture is a ladybird larvae. Almost looks like something from a science fiction film! Their appetite for blackfly is immense! Next picture you can see a ladybird adult just emerging from a case.
They come in all sorts of colours, this one has no spots! Perhaps they are like dalmatian puppies, born without their spots?
Here is one with four spots!
This is a black one with red spots!
This one has lots of spots! Is this the foreign invader ladybird?
Finally, all this heat has brought on my Yard Long Beans a treat!

20 Comments:

At 8:02 PM, Blogger Midmarsh John said...

You certainly have a good collection of natural pest killers there Matron. I have seen very few round here, just a few of the usual red ones. I could have done with some a few weeks ago when greenfly all but destroyed my blackcurrant bushes.

 
At 8:34 PM, Blogger Magic Cochin said...

!!! Harlequin Ladybird Alert !!!

I think you should google "british ladybird identification" and download the ID sheet - those last two look very like Harlequins in their various disguises!

Celia

 
At 8:41 PM, Blogger mangocheeks said...

I am so envious, get some of the ladybirds in all their diversity to fly to the west of scotland...please.

 
At 11:03 PM, Blogger Miss M said...

I think bugs are fascinating. They go through the most incredible transformations. I spotted a clump of ladybird eggs in my crabapple this Spring and followed their progress. I saw the larvae hatch and roam around the tree but I didn't get a chance to witness any part of the pupal stage. You're lucky !

 
At 11:17 PM, Blogger Scarlett the Heavenly Healer said...

I love Mother Nature and the way she sends us her gifts just at the right moment!
Last year I was told that the many-spotted version was the foreign invader but I don't know for sure. I'll follow Magic Cochin's advice and look it up.

 
At 2:15 AM, Anonymous kitsapFG said...

What a fun collection of spots! (or not in one case)

 
At 2:45 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

Hi Matron - I just wanted to let you know that I absolutely love your blog! I've been reading it now for about a year and a half and can't seem to get enough of it.
I've finally gotten around to starting my own blog. If you have a chance, take a look and let me know what you think - www.agrowingtradition.com.

Take care,
Thomas

 
At 4:31 AM, Blogger keewee said...

Ladybirds are pretty little insects and so helpful in the garden getting rid of certain pests.Before I knew what the larvae of the ladybird looked like, I was repulsed by the alien looking insect.

 
At 4:59 AM, Blogger Petunia's Gardener said...

Thanks for the photos! I've never seen the larvae in person. I hope they are having quite a meal and inviting all of their friends over too.

 
At 6:02 AM, Blogger Fluffymuppet said...

I reckon the ladybird larva is a Harlequin as well - it looks to have a tufty back, whereas the native ladybird larvae I've seen are smoother.

This is mine from last year: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fluffymuppet/2619505686/

 
At 9:12 AM, Blogger Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Gosh! you love nature and they love you too! I do not get to see so many ladybirds. Only a couple, if I'm lucky. helpful and pretty bugs :)

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger UKBob said...

Hi Matron. Its good to see the ladybirds. I had load of blackfly on the cherry tree this time but none on the broad beans. If your ladybirds don't appear anytime in the future I've heard that pinching the tips out of broad beans get rid of them. Bob.

 
At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Rachael said...

I'm almost certain those last two are the Harlequin ladybirds. They are just as good at eating the aphids, but not such good news for the native ladybirds

 
At 6:09 PM, Blogger Matron said...

I am certain the last two are Harlequin ladybirds. Thanks to Celia at Magic Cochin! I did a google search and downloaded an identification factsheet. Apparently the Harlequins came to the UK in about 2002 originally from Asia via USA. They are voracious eaters, but after they have finished eating all the bad bugs... they eat the good ones as well.. like lacewings and the British ladybird!

 
At 6:37 PM, Blogger Nutty Gnome said...

I haven't got any harlequin ladybirds, but I have got lots of blackfly on my globe artichokes!

I thin you're a bit ahead of us 'up north' - I'm picking raspberries and strawberries like they're going out of fashion, but the currants, gooseberries and peas (and everything else) are nowhere near ready yet. Another week or so and they'll be perfect.....just in time for us to go to France!

 
At 8:57 PM, Anonymous easygardener said...

I think all the ladybirds must have moved down your way. I have lots of blackfly but few ladybirds. If there are any Harlequins on my beans they will have plenty of food without eating native species!

 
At 3:15 AM, Blogger Dan said...

Never seen a black ladybug before, that's so cool.

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger The Mom said...

What a neat bug! I'm never quite sure which are the beneficials and which are not. I just leave them all and hope for the best at this point.

 
At 9:53 PM, Blogger mebennet said...

I am an ecologist in Norfolk and I agree with the many other posters that it seems you have mostly photographed harlequin ladybirds.

 
At 10:36 PM, OpenID reapwhatyougrow said...

Not sure whether that is the new ladybird or not? I know that round London I have actually seen more varieties of ladybird than anywhere else - maybe the heat? There are yellow ones, different numbered spotted ones, big ones, tiny ones. I heard someone on the radio say that if there was any doubt, leave it, which of course you did.

 

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