Lovable Ladybirds!

Lovable Ladybirds!

Can you identify this ladybird using the identification guide? 


This week’s newsletter is dedicated to the well-known and important spotty, little beetle –  the ladybird or also known as ladybug. They are a gardener’s friend because they are a natural predator of some pests in the garden, such as black flies, green flies (aphids) and scale insects and they can help to keep insects under control; eliminating the need to use harmful pesticides. Some species even feed on types of mildew on plants! In this newsletter, we have included identification guides for each stage of their life cycle and some ways that you might try to encourage them into your gardens or growing spaces. 


Ladybird Identification Guide


There are over 5000 species of ladybirds across the world; approximately 46 of which are found in the UK. The 7 spot ladybird is the most common and easiest to recognise of all the species. There are many different colours of ladybirds and some have lots of spots while others have none! Here is a short video about ladybirds.

This useful ladybird identification recording sheet (see below) could be taken with you next time you go outside to see if you can identify some ladybirds. 


Image via: conservationhandbooks.com


Image via: wildlifetrusts.org


Your children could observe some ladybirds and then see if they can identify the body parts using the activity below. 


Image via: canadiangeographic.ca


Image via: teacherspayteachers.com 


Making a Ladybird House


Many adult ladybirds need a moist, sheltered and frost free place to hibernate over winter, so you may find them overwintering in a greenhouse, shed or poly tunnel.

If you want to encourage them in your garden or growing space, you could leave some plants with hollow stems to grow over winter for them to hibernate in; such as, elder, cow parsley, teasel, buddleia, or fennel – insects can live in the stems while many of these plants have dried seed heads which provide food for birds over winter too.

Or, you could leave an untidy, unused corner of your garden (ideally in the shade) with piles of dead wood, dead plants and leaf litter for ladybirds and many other invertebrates to hibernate and breed in. Alternatively, you could make a ladybird/insect house with your children; see the instructions below.



Making a Pooter


One way of observing insects more closely without touching them is by using a homemade or shop-bought pooter. Adult support and supervision is required. See the instructions below. 



Ladybird Life Cycle Activity


When you are next outside, see if you can spot some ladybirds in the different stages of their life cycle! In spring and summer, you can see ladybirds in all stages of their life cycle. Eggs can be found on the underside of leaves, larvae can be found in cool, shaded places or on plants, pupa stage can be found on plants and adult ladybirds can be found on plants or flying around. Look at the photos below to help you identify them and have a go at completing the lifecycle activity. Here is a video showing the life cycle of a ladybird


Image via: providenceparks.org/


Image via: Twinkl


Image via: Twinkl


Image via: Twinkl


Make a Ladybird!


Image via: wildlifetrusts.org


More Ladybird Craft Ideas


Here are some ladybird craft ideas; as alternatives to plastic or non-recyclable materials such as pipe cleaners, you could use twigs or plant stems for the antennae and legs and instead of using plastic googly eyes, you could draw eyes on paper and glue them on or paint them directly onto the artwork once the first coat of paint has dried.


Painted ladybird leaves
Image via: easypeasyandfun.com


Image via: firefliesandmudpies.com


Potato print ladybird
Potato print ladybird
Image via: artandcraftforbabies.co.uk


Painted stone ladybird
Image via: firefliesandmudpies.com


Ladybird anatomy craft
Image via: gosciencekids.com


This blog has some great ideas for natural alternatives for many commonly used crafting materials.


Replace with nature
Image via: mothernatured.com


Growing Plants for Ladybirds


Calendula (also known as pot marigold)


The greater the variety of plants you grow, the more biodiversity your garden or windowsill should have, so the following is just a short list of plants that encourage insects and ladybirds but there are many more. 


Angelika, calendula, caraway, chives, coriander, cosmos, dill, fennel, feverfew, marigold, statice, sweet alyssum and yarrow. 


For lots of other ways to attract wildlife into the garden have a look on the RHS website. 


Children’s Stories about Ladybirds


Here are some story books about ladybirds. This rhyming Julia Donaldson picture book sees a quiet ladybird save the day on a farm full of noisy animals. 


What the Ladybird Heard By Julia Donaldson


Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds is a chapter book about a boy who can talk to animals. It looks at the similarities and differences humans share with creatures. There are some social and environmental messages about cutting down the use of pesticides and realising that everyone deserves a home.



The Bad-Tempered Ladybird is a picture book about a ladybird who picks fights with every animal he meets, but he soon learns the importance of friends and turns into a kinder, happier bug!


Click here for more fun facts about ladybirds.

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