Garden, Home and Garden

How to Help Ladybirds

how to help ladybirds

how to help ladybirds

Over summer I spotted a grand total of three ladybirds, which is three more than my other half or my neighbour saw.  I had started to worry about the ladybirds.  I knew that like the bees they were in decline but I wasn’t sure to what extent, so I did a bit of research into what was going on and on how to help ladybirds.

According to the UK Ladybird Survey our native ladybird species are in trouble because of a non-native newcomer, the Harlequin ladybird.  The Harlequin, a native of Asia, is not the friendliest ladybird on the block – when food is scarce they eat the eggs and larvae of other species of ladybirds.  Also going under the the names the Multicoloured Asian Ladybird and the Halloween Ladybird, it was introduced to North America in 1988, where it is now the most widespread ladybird.  Not content with conquering American soil, it has also dominated much of north-western Europe, and has it’s sights firmly set on the UK now – first spotted here in summer 2004.

ladybirds in decline

Not a Harlequin – see here for how to identify them.

The people behind the Ladybird Survey, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, are now asking for your help.  If you’d like to assist the monitoring of the Harlequin ladybird population, as well as their impact on our native ladybirds, then they’ve developed a handy app.   Called iRecord Ladybirds (you can search for it in the iPhone or Android App Store), it allows you to record any ladybirds you’ve spotted quickly and easily.   Using the app you can take a photo and add some information about where you saw it, the number you saw, etc.  There’s even a handy guide to help identify the ladybird in question if like me you struggle to identify the particular species (there are 47 UK native ladybird species after all!).  If you don’t have a smartphone you can send an online record to them instead.

There are other ways on how to help ladybirds too.  As ladybirds hibernate over winter you can lay down some small logs in a corner of your garden for them to hibernate in, or if you want to get a bit more creative than that here are some other great ideas.  You can also buy ladybird homes on the internet or in garden centres, or even make your own using just a plastic bottle and some corrugated cardboard!

In spring and summer you can also leave patches of nettles growing as ladybirds tend to lay their eggs on nettles, and avoid spraying plants with insecticides.  Ladybirds eat the aphids that feast on plants, and do a much better and safer job at reducing the aphid numbers than chemicals do, so it’s mutually beneficial to help the ladybirds!

Garden, Home and Garden

How to Encourage Wild Birds to your Garden

how to encourage wild birds to your garden

encourage wild birds to your garden

This  post contains affiliate links (*).  

It’s autumn and perhaps you’re thinking about feeding the birds that frequent your garden?  Well, today I thought I’d share some ideas on how to encourage wild birds to your garden.

Earlier this year, when Moral Fibres was all shiny and new, I wrote a piece about how to feed wild birds in your garden.  There’s some handy hints in there about what to feed and what not to feed the birds that visit your garden.  I thought I’d add the link here in case it benefits any newer readers wanting to start feeding the birds in autumn and winter.  Consider this guide on how to encourage wild birds to your garden as an update to that post!

If you’ve already got bird feeders then it’s always worthwhile giving your bird feeders and water trays a good clean in warm soapy water, and rinsing and drying well before putting them back out with any food on them.  Keeping them clean helps minimise bird picking up bad bacteria or infections.

How to Encourage Wild Birds to Your Garden

how to feed the birds in winter

1.  This squirrel-proof fat ball feeder (£3.99) is handy for keeping the squirrels out of your bird feeders.  Grey squirrels aren’t native and have outcompeted our native red squirrels in most of the UK.  They also bully birds at bird feeders meaning our native birds can’t get to the feeders.  This does the job of allowing the birds access to the feeder but blocking access to the squirrels.  Fat balls often come in little net bags – it’s not ideal to hang the balls out in the net bags as birds can get their feet stuck in them.  Offering them in a feeder is a safer alternative.

2.  If you don’t have squirrels in your garden then this stylish seed feeder* (£8.99) is a nice change from all of the standard bird feeders around.

3.  This fat ball kit* (£3.95) is an easy and economical way to make your own fat balls using kitchen scraps.

4.  This peanut feeder* (£15.49) is not only an ideal way to feed peanuts to the birds, it’s also made from 100% recycled plastics.  Peanuts are a great high energy source of food at this time of year – but always make sure they’re always offered in a feeder or crushed into small pieces and placed on your bird table.  They can pose a choking hazard otherwise.

5. This squirrel proof bird feeder (£3.99) again helps keep squirrels from feasting on your bird seed.

6.  This autumn bird food collection (£9.99) from Birdco is a great and affordable way to get started feeding the birds and encouraging wild birds to your garden, providing you with everything you need to feed the birds over autumn.

how to help wild birds in winter

1.  This bird house from Sparrow & Finch (£35.00) is one of the most stylish bird houses out there (edit: no longer available).

2.  These roosting pockets* (£2.85 each) make good places for small birds to hide from predators or bad weather.

3.  A bird table (£39.99) is a great way to feed the birds, and this one would look lovely in any garden.

4.  A bird bath (£11.99) gives birds a place to have a little wash and have a drink.  Just make sure it’s not too deep.

5.  Hanging a wool pot (£11.50) in your garden is a great way to help birds feather their nest with cosy wool.

Once you start feeding the birds you’ll soon have an array of birds in your garden.  If you’re not sure how to identify them then I came across this handy bird identifier guide from the RSPB  I have to say the woodpecker is the most elusive – I’ve seen one once!

Do let me know how you get on encouraging wild birds to your garden, and let me know which birds you see!