The balmy weather of July sees plants spurting with growth in the garden provided of course there is enough water about. It is also the time of year when the aphids make their presence known Greenfly descend on roses and virtually every other plant imaginable whilst blackfly love nasturtiums and broad beans. But it is not a time for despair for in the well-balanced garden it is also time for the cavalry as ladybirds and lacewings flood in to control these sap sucking pests.   There are 46 species of Ladybird found in the UK roughly half of which resemble the typical ladybird recognisable from the eponymous books. A few of the ladybirds can be identified by counting their spots such as the relatively common 2-spot and 7-spot. Perhaps most common now in our gardens is the US import the Harlequin ladybird, it too devours aphids and is generally larger than the British natives. The ladybird larvae are even more avaricious in their aphid consumption and appear more threatening to the human eye, the Harlequin even having spines down its body. There are 43 species of lacewing found in the UK broadly divided into brown and green variants, often described as looking like fairies’ due to their delicate bodies and finely latticed wings. Like the ladybird both adult and larvae feast on aphids.

TWO SIMPLE STEPS

Obviously, the ideal is to increase the numbers of these beneficial insects in our gardens and there are two simple steps to doing this.

  • Avoid using pesticides as these kill our friends the ladybirds and lacewings as well as the aphids, if things get out of control try spraying the plants with washing up water which causes the aphids to lose their grip on our plant without endangering the predators.
  • Create safe places for both to overwinter, many garden centres sell lacewings and ladybird homes generally slatted structures or upward facing holes. A good alternative is to cut both ends off a 2 litre plastic drinks bottle and fill the centre with rolled up corrugated cardboard. A free winter shelter for these useful bugs if hung up in a sheltered spot.