A lot for one ladybird


I have a  large tree lupin¹ in my back garden that will soon flower. I grew it from a seed that I got from Irish Seedsavers some years ago, and it has thrived ever since (I’ve since grown some smaller tree lupins from the seeds of the original plant). The tree lupin is currently playing host to a huge colony of  green aphids that are slowly swarming over every flower head. I’m not too worried, though. This has happened before and the lupin will produce flowers regardless. Some years ago, I had ornamental roses in the garden, and I used sprays to protect them. But the sprays killed other insects, so I got rid of the roses instead. Now I have a rambling rose on the back wall that the aphids completely ignore. The aphids don’t seem to care for anything else in the garden, so I don’t mind the lupins taking one for the team.

Hoverflies and aphids feed on the aphids, and I have plenty of hoverflies in the garden (though they better start pulling their weight). Alas, I have spotted just one small ladybird on the lupin plant (i.e. it’s small even by ladybird standards). It’s a two-spot ladybird, and if it has to eat all of the aphids on its own, it will be the size of a bullock by June (which, admittedly, would be a good one for the biodiversity database). So if there are any ladybirds reading this in the Newcastle area of Galway, the buffet is open.

¹ In case you’re wondering, a tree lupin is just like an ordinary lupin flower, except that it grows into a large shrub with multiple flower heads, and is basically an evergreen plant over the winter. I don’t have mine long enough to know if it actually grows into a tree eventually.

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