Feature

Lady killers

G Magazine

The ladybug is a natural predator that’s a welcome helper in any garden.

ladybugs

Credit: iStockphoto

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A child’s delight to find in the garden, gracing the finder with a wish as it flies away, the ladybug is also a particularly useful inhabitant amongst your plants.

The ladybug’s natural predatory instincts make it an ideal, environmentally friendly pest controller, as they munch on the aphids and mites that eat your fruit, vegies, flowers and trees. It’s not only the delightfully attractive adult ladybugs that work away in your garden either, with the larvae of ladybugs helping to eat bad insects too.

While nurseries supply ladybugs by the bucket load as ready plant protectors, it’s not necessarily a great option for both your garden and the future of the species. Most ladybugs available for purchase are wild-harvested: collected in their thousands as they hibernate together in winter. If you purchase these ladybugs after their hibernation is broken, once released they naturally begin to migrate before feeding or laying their eggs, meaning most won’t end up in your garden anyway. You may also be introducing non-native species to your garden, while potentially contributing to the decimation of wild ladybugs.

Australia is home to over 500 species of ladybug, just over half of which have been identified, with a cohort of introduced species to contend with. Rather than purchasing, encourage your local ladies with edible favourites like fennel, dill, dandelion, coriander and fern leaf yarrow.