LadyBirds learning about ladybirds

Ladybird lectureWe flipped the September meeting schedule on it’s head, and launched straight into the evening with our speaker Peter Brown, lecturer in zoology at Anglia Ruskin University, and ladybird expert. It was fascinating to learn all about our tiny namesake! Did you know that the name ladybird comes from ‘our lady’s birds’ and that they’re named after the Virgin Mary?

We learnt that there are some 46 species of ladybirds found around the UK, and many many more found globally. Yellow, orange, brown, black, red ladybirds, with 7 spots, 9 spots, 16 spots, 4 spots, white spots, cream spots, black spots, small and large.There are many different varieties of ladybirds! And when it comes to ladybirds, looks can be deceiving, as our little ladybird friends can change their spots! Not within one lifetime that is, but within the species. Some ladybirds have wildly different colour and spot combinations but are still of the same species. I could never have imagined how complex the ladybird world was.

If you’re a keen gardener there’s a lot you can do to help out our native ladybird friends. Plant herbaceous plants, keep some wild areas, particularly grasses and nettles and leave some piles of twigs and logs for them to overwinter. And don’t use chemicals if you can avoid it. Of course it’s a win-win if you help out ladybirds, they’ll return the favour eating your aphids and other garden pests. Ladybirds are still considered lucky because of their long history as farmer’s best friend. Cambridge LadyBirds – we have a lot to live up to!

Many thanks to Peter for his wonderful talk!

Alana

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