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Insect week: Ladybirds

This week the Royal Entomological Society celebrates the small creatures that keep the world going. Supported by partner organisations throughout the UK and Europe, it is possible to get involved in insect science wherever you are. Wherever you live, it’s an opportunity to take part in insect science, get to know insects, learn from experts, and have fun.


This week, I would like to celebrate the insects that play an often-overlooked role in keeping our crops healthy by focusing on key insects in agriculture.

Today, we celebrate Ladybirds!


Who doesn’t like Ladybirds? Not only are they colourful and nice to look at, in many cultures they are also seen as a sign of good luck. In European folklore, it is said that a Ladybird that crawls on a woman will then fly away to their true love. Ladybirds are often regarded as a garden favourite, held in the same regard as butterflies and Bumblebees, but many people don’t know how important these cute little Coccinellidae really are.


Now, these small beetles may look sweet, but, in reality, they are very aggressive carnivores and predators to a specific type of pest- Aphids. Aphids are an enormous problem in both gardens and agricultural fields. They feed on sap by piercing the stems of many species of plants, in doing so, they can damage the stem, resulting in poor growth, and may cause the spread of disease between plants. They are a major pest of numerous crop and plant species which put your gardens and food production at risk. That is where Ladybirds come in; a single Ladybird can consume over 5000 aphids in its lifetime!



More fun facts about Ladybirds:

  • There are more than 6,000 species of Ladybird around the world, with 47 of them living in the UK

  • The top speed of Ladybirds in flight is up to 24km/h

  • Ladybirds only live for a year- but can still eat all of those aphids!

  • The Ladybird’s bright colours are a warning to predators that they don’t taste good

  • If their colouring wasn’t enough, when threatened they will secrete an oily, yellow fluid from joints in their legs that doesn’t taste good to bring the lesson home.

  • Ladybirds lay their eggs on the underside of leaves- usually near to aphids

  • Ladybirds like to hibernate in the colder months, often grouping together. These hibernating colonies can contain thousands of Ladybirds.


Come back tomorrow to learn about another important critter!


If you are interested in learning about how you can support the survival of these important insect species please check out the resources available at: https://www.insectweek.org/




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