Want to know how to help ladybirds in your garden? Read on for my top advice.
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.
Why Are Ladybirds in Trouble?
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 names of the Multicoloured Asian Ladybird and the Halloween Ladybird, it was introduced to North America in 1988. It is now the most widespread ladybird in North America.
Not content with conquering American soil, it has also dominated much of north-western Europe. The Harlequin Ladybird now has its sights firmly set on the UK now. It was first spotted here in summer 2004, and the numbers have grown.
Not a Harlequin – see here for how to identify them.
How to Help Ladybirds
The people behind the Ladybird Survey, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, are now asking for your help in helping ladybirds.
If you’d like to assist in 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. This is handy, if like me, you struggle to identify the particular species that you’ve found. There are 47 UK native ladybird species after all! And don’t worry if you don’t have a smartphone – you can record it online instead.
How to Help Ladybirds in Winter
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. This gives them a spot for ladybirds to hibernate in. Or if you want to get a bit more creative then here are some other great ideas. You can also buy ladybird homes on the internet or in garden centres. If you’d rather not spend any money, you can even make your own ladybird house using just a plastic bottle and some corrugated cardboard!
Help in Spring & Summer Too
In spring and summer, you can also leave patches of nettles growing. This is helpful because ladybirds tend to lay their eggs on nettles.
You should also avoid spraying plants with insecticides. Ladybirds eat the aphids that feast on plants. They, therefore, do a much better and safer job at reducing the aphid numbers than chemicals do. As you can see, it’s mutually beneficial to help the ladybirds! You can also check out my post on sustainable garden ideas for more green garden ideas.