Ladybirds (All About)
Ladybirds are very common and recognisable insects. They belong to the beetle group and have the smooth curved shiny back that is typical of beetles. This curved back is made of two hardened wing covers which open to reveal two transparent wings with which the ladybird can fly.Read moreRead less
There are eighteen different species of ladybird in Ireland. Some of them are red with black spots such as the seven spot and the much smaller two spot. But we also have yellow ladybirds with black spots, red ladybirds with cream spots and even a pink ladybird with black and yellow-ringed spots.
They are all brightly coloured and all are poisonous — to birds that is. All ladybirds are brightly coloured to warn birds not to eat them. They contain formic acid so that if an inexperienced bird were to eat one its tongue would be burnt and it would never eat another one. So the bright colour acts as a warning. In fact, if you catch one and let it walk on your hand it might secrete some of this orange-coloured liquid which — if you were a bird — would burn your tongue and you would spit it out. This is another defence stratagem. Ladybirds themselves are carnivores and they eat greenflies.
They visit gardens where there are roses, in order to feast on the greenflies that are sucking the juices out of the tender rose leaves. In the winter, when there are no greenfly to eat, ladybirds will hibernate. You could make a “hotel” for them in the school garden by tying together a bundle of hollow bamboo sticks and leaving them on their side on a shelf or something above the ground. The ladybirds could climb in here and have a safe place over winter.
Things to do
1. You could make a “hotel” for them in the school garden by tying together a bundle of hollow bamboo sticks and leaving them on their side on a shelf or something above the ground. The ladybirds could climb in here and have a safe place over winter.
2. Learn the rhyme:
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children are gone
All except one and that’s little Anne
And she crept under the frying pan.
3. Bring the children out to look for ladybirds at the end of May, in June and in September. Places such as rose beds, hedges, low shrubs are all good places to look. You could also shake the branches of a tree into an upturned umbrella and see if any fall down into it.