Those of us involved in raising Monarch Butterflies in New Zealand love Ladybirds.
They are wonderful things to have in your garden because they feed on many pests, in particular the Aphid (aphis neril), and are said to eat about 5000 aphids in their lifetime.
Aphids are the scourge of Swan Plants (milkweed), the main food source for Monarch Butterflies and Caterpillars in New Zealand.
The sight of Ladybirds scurrying up and down the swan plant stalks, makes us all very happy.
Ladybirds are their most active between Spring and Autumn and hibernate in Winter.
The Eleven Spotted Ladybird (red and black) that we see in our New Zealand gardens was introduced in 1874, actually to control aphids. It is said they can eat about 5000 in their lifetime. Known as the Eleven Spotted Ladybird, some of them may only have 9 spots, the shoulder spots being either reduced or missing.
The Steelblue Ladybird (Native of Eastern Australia) was introduced to New Zealand in 1899 as a biological control for citrus insects pests from Australia, and then again in 1905 for the control of black scale and blue gum scale. When hunting for prey they encounter different species of ants going for the honey-dew expressed by the aphids. To protect themselves they withdraw their legs and antenna under their wing-covers so the ants cannot attack them.
The Yellow and Black Ladybird (fungus-eating: Illeis galbula) is active during the day and lives on plants infected with fungus or black mould. It is not considered useful to have in the garden because it spreads the spores of mildew around large-leaf plants. Before it hibernates for Winter, it stores some fungus under its wing shields, as food for when it comes out of hibernation.
*** Julie's Butterflies Blog comes to you from Julie Simpson, New Zealand ***
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Opua, New Zealand.
Keen butterfly photographer and raises Monarch Butterflies for release.
" I'm crazy about butterflies and enjoy sharing the beauty and wonder of their transformations."
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