Backyard Buddies
Ladybirds

Photo: CSIRO

Ladybirds

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Let ladybirds control your garden pests.

Ladybirds, also known as ladybeetles and ladybugs, are natural controllers of aphids, scale insects and mites which otherwise damage plants. You can be sure that if your garden has regular ladybird visitors it will receive a helping hand keeping healthy.

This is probably why nearly all cultures believe that ladybirds are lucky. Killing one is said to bring sadness and misfortune. The nursery rhyme “Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home” encourages children to catch the beetles and blow them on their way in return for a wish. It is thought this was a way of getting the children to disperse the beetles amongst the crops to destroy pests.

There are over 500 species of ladybirds in Australia. Their colour is a warning sign to predators like birds, wasps, spiders and dragonflies.

A female ladybird can lay up to 2,000 eggs in its life. As ladybirds age, the colour of their spots fades.

As a defense mechanism they can exude unpleasant oils from joints in their legs.

A ladybird in flight beats its wings up to 85 times per second. Ladybirds breathe through openings on the sides of their bodies.

Ladybirds and their larvae gorge themselves on aphids. As long as you don’t use chemical sprays, these predators will be there when you need them. Even using low toxic environmentally friendly insecticides, such as pyrethrum or garlic spray to kill aphids, can kill natural predators like ladybirds. If the majority of their food source is gone they won’t visit your garden meaning you have to spray again year after year.

Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The ladybird is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like the ladybird, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.

So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what ladybirds do and do not like.

Ladybirds love:

Aphids – which they gorge on. Even ladybird larvae can eat up to 350 aphids during the three weeks it takes to become a pupa.

Garden herbs – such as coriander, dill and fennel.

Lots of water – and often seek out places with water.

Bright colours – and spots which they wear to keep predators away.

But they don’t like:

Insecticides – which can kill them. Even using low toxic insecticides to kill aphids can also kill ladybirds.

The cold weather – when they remain in a dormant state. As the weather warms up the adults begin to get active and search for early aphids to eat.

Be a ladybird buddy

Try to:

Avoid:

Don’t be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

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