Archive for November, 2013

November 17, 2013

Ladybirds settle down for winter

17 November 2013

Whilst working in the garden recently, my husband spotted some ladybirds gathered together in a twisted dead leaf on a teasel – five of them, sharing their home with a small snail.

Five ladybirds and snail in dead teasel leaf

Ladybirds and snail in dead teasel leaf.

We noticed an unusual lack of ladybirds earlier this year. Searching the internet for the reasons why, I came across an interesting blog by Richard Comont, who is involved with the national ladybird survey and doing his PhD on ladybirds. Do have a look at the full blog, but he explains that it was mainly the wet weather in 2012 and the long, cold spring in 2013 which caused the crash, but that the hot summer we eventually enjoyed has helped them to recover. If you have seen any, do contribute your sightings to the national ladybird survey.

The life cycle of the ladybird is such that it overwinters from October to Feburary, so presumably this quintet are aiming to stay there all winter – a good example of why it’s not a good idea to clear all the old growth from the garden in the autumn: if this lot had ended up on the compost heap, would they have been able to get out? The seven-spot ladybird can eat up to 5,000 aphids in it’s year of life (as larva and adult), so I want to encourage them.The snail presumably has much the same intention, and I’m quite happy for him to stay there!

We humans have a rather different approach to getting through the winter, and storing harvested crops to see us through is part of it, though we are lucky these days that our winter meals do not depend on what we can grow – we’ve got shops to go to. The photo below is part of our Autumn harvest.

Harvested crops 23 October 2013

Harvested crops 23 October 2013

The apples in the photo are russets – I love them, so we’ll eat them as fast as I can: they only store well for a couple of months. The raspberries went into the freezer, and the dahlias graced our kitchen for a few days. There’s nothing better than home-grown.