I’m Growing Ladybirds!
Discovering a Different Variety of Poppy
Well, I have to admit that my ‘Ladybirds’ are in fact a wonderful bright and cheerful variety of the poppy. These poppies have crimson red flowers and a distinctive black blotch at the base of each one that look similar to the spots on a ladybird, hence the name ‘Poppy Ladybird’.
The first time I saw these poppies growing in my sister’s garden I fell in love with them. I just couldn’t wait to plant some seeds in my own garden.
All poppies are easy to grow and I grow lots of different varieties. I was particularly excited about giving this variety a try and so I bought a packet of seeds, scattered them around the garden, and waited in anticipation!
They have just started to flower and I think they are beautiful; they are such a beautiful rich red and of course the name just captures the imagination - they really do look like ladybirds!
I believe they are now my favourite variety of poppy.
A Gardener's Friend
As a gardener, I welcome ladybirds into the garden. Ladybirds are a gardener’s best friend as they are natural allies against devastating aphids (greenfly).
A few interesting facts about our friend the Ladybird
- Why is the Ladybird so called? ‘Lady’ refers to the Virgin Mary who in early paintings is seen wearing a red cloak, 7 spots are symbolic of the 7 joys and 7 sorrows of Mary.
- The Ladybird is also known as the Ladybug.
- The Ladybird is a colourful beetle that is found all around the world.
- There are more than 5,000 species of Ladybird.
- There are more than 450 species inNorth Americaalone.
- There are 46 species inBritain.
- 7 Spot Ladybirds are the most common.
- Ladybirds can consume up to 5000 aphids during their year-long life.
- Some Ladybirds feed on plants or mildew.
- Their spots do not relate to their age; when an adult Ladybird is formed it stays the same size and keeps the same amount of spots.
- Their bright colour warns predators that they are ‘not tasty’.
- Ladybirds are best known for being red and black but are often orange and yellow.
- It is good luck if one lands on you.
- It’s bad luck if you squash it!
- Ladybirds hibernate in winter months in communal fashion.
- Ladybirds are prey to birds, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, rodents and other insects.
- They lay more than 2000 eggs a year, which hatch in a few days.
- The larvae hatches out of the eggs; they are long in shape and generally one colour. After a couple of weeks the larvae evolves into a ladybird pupa which has a protective layer surrounding it, until it develops wings. It then breaks out of the skin to become an adult.
- Ladybirds secrete small amounts of oily foul-smelling yellow liquid from its legs as a warning to predators such as ants or birds.
- Ladybirds are a deterrent against garden pests; they eat greenfly and small caterpillars and also help pollinate plants.
- Ladybirds are also regarded with respect and affection by most, because as children we recognised them through rhymes and stories, can’t say I ever really understood this one though….
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and
Your children are gone,
All except one and that’s little Ann
For she crept under the frying pan.
And lastly, it’s sad to add that due to climate changes and habitat loss, the ladybird is now considered to be a species threatened with extinction.
On a brighter note, I hope you will try growing ‘Ladybird Poppies’ as they are just beautiful and make a bright colourful addition to the garden. Don’t forget to keep some seeds for next year and to give to friends.