Along with the butterflies, bees and other insects, I certainly want to attract Ladybirds to my garden, and not only because they feed on insect pests, especially aphids, but because they are so colourful and it always makes me feel happy when I see them.
Stone mini pot with ladybird
Attracting them into your garden requires some planning - it is a matter of planting the types of plants that they like.
Apart from aphids, ladybirds also require a source of pollen for food and are attracted to specific types of plants. The most popular ones have umbrella shaped flowers such as fennel, dill, cilantro, caraway, angelica, tansy, wild carrot and yarrow. Other plants that also attract ladybirds include cosmos (especially the white ones), coreopsis, scented geraniums and dandelions.
Gardening organically helps. Not only are ladybirds sensitive to most synthetic insecticides, but if the majority of their food source is gone, they won't lay their eggs. Allowing aphids to live on certain plants is necessary to ensure that there is enough food for ladybirds and being careful not to squish the bugs and eggs will be beneficial too.
Ladybirds have adapted lots of ways of protecting themselves as well - their colouring helps signal warning to birds 'not to eat'. In fact the blood of a ladybird has caustic properties and is discharged in small drops when the creature is seized. This peculiar attribute, which is termed reflex bleeding, is due to the blood oozing from around limb joints or elsewhere when the insects are attacked or molested. I hope not to see this!
Here's to a summer full with ladybirds in all their sizes colours and spottyness.