I REMEMBER WHEN I could always find a Ladybird in the garden

April 19, 2018
ladybird, ladybeetle, ladybug

ladybird, ladybeetle, ladybug

I miss seeing Ladybirds in the garden.  I remember as a child I could wander outside to the garden and always find myself a beautiful Ladybird.  Nowadays, I go outside to the garden and sadly, to find one is very, very rare. 

I must say I stumbled a bit on whether to refer to them as Ladybirds, Ladybugs, or Ladybeetles.  I think I have called them all three names at different times (probably mostly Lady Beetle actually) but I settled on Ladybird because my research showed me that was the preferred name here in Australia.

Did you know that Australia apparently hosts more than 500 ladybird species, most of which are predators of aphids and scales — insect pests that feed on plant sap and cause serious damage to gardens and crops when they occur in large numbers.  The mealy bug ladybird is one of the most celebrated examples of biological control. In 1891 these ladybirds were exported to the United States, where they saved the Californian citrus industry from the mealy bug plague. 

So where have the Ladybirds gone?  I consulted Mr Google but there really wasn’t much information to find that was Australia based.  I did find these articles here and here that suggest the problem may be associated with the use of pesticides. 

I thought perhaps it might also depend on what is in your garden so I’ve looked for what plants might attract Ladybirds to your garden and what Ladybirds like and don’t like

Ladybirds LOVE: 

  • Garden herbs like Coriander/Cilantro, Fennel and Dill.
  • Also Angelica, Calendula, Caraway, Chives, Cosmos, Feverfew, Marigold, Statice, Sweet Alyssum, and Yarrow.
  • Living in well-watered gardens because they need to drink frequently.  Also putting out shallow plates of water for the Ladybirds to drink from will apparently attract them (need to watch out for mosquito’s though!).
  • Aphids, scale insects or mites.  Ladybirds need to have enough bugs to eat.  You could plant some decoy plants that will attract and provide aphids while you keep your desired plants bug free until the ladybugs come to do it for you.  Plants that can be used as aphid-attracting decoy plants include: Early cabbage; Marigold; Nasturtium (These are aphids’ favorite); and Radish.
  • A warm place to shelter.  I saw many suggestions to build ladybug houses to provide shelter for your ladybugs. Here’s an example!

Ladybirds DON’T LIKE: 

  • Insecticides. Any insecticides, even low toxic or environmentally friendly ones, are harmful to ladybirds and they destroy the ladybirds’ food sources. That means new ladybirds won’t have any reason to come to your garden.
  • Being caught out in cold weather.
  • Going without water or visiting very dry gardens.

Once you’ve put the effort in and set up your garden as the right environment for Ladybirds, you don’t need to wait for them to come.  You can purchase them!  That’s right, you most certainly can.  Mr Google will help you to  locate a place to purchase from, and purchase would include instructions on steps to take prior to release of them into your garden.

Do you remember as a child reciting this nursery rhyme whenever you had a Ladybird on your hand and you were setting it free? There were various versions (using Ladybird or Ladybug) but this is the one I remember:

Ladybug, ladybug fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All but one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the frying pan.

Ladybug, ladybug fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All but one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the frying pan.

I never really thought too much about the words when I was a child but as an adult the words seem quite brutal for a child’s nursery rhyme don’t you think?  So I did a little poking around and discovered the origins of the words for this nursery rhyme

Farmers knew of the Ladybird’s value in reducing the level of pests in their crops and it was traditional for them to cry out the rhyme before they burnt their fields following harvests (this reduced the level of insects and pests) in deference to the helpful ladybird:

“Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house in on fire and your children are gone”

The English word ladybird is a derivative of the Catholic term “Our Lady”.  The tradition of calling this rhyme was believed to have been used as a seemingly innocent warning cry to Catholics (recusants) who refused to attend Protestant services as required by the Act of Uniformity (1559 & 1662).  This law forbade priests to say Mass and forbade communicants to attend it.  Consequently, Mass was held secretly in the open fields.  Laymen were subject to jail and heavy fines and priests to execution.  Many priests were executed by the terrible death of being burnt alive at the stake or, even worse, being hung, drawn and quartered.  The most famous English recusants were Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot Conspirators.

It is possible that the word Ladybird was exchanged for Ladybug in the American version of the nursery rhyme, due to the word association with Firebug meaning an arsonist or pyromaniac.  The first publication date was 1865 and the word ladybird was used as opposed to ladybug.  There has been some speculation that this Nursery Rhyme originates from the time of the Great Fire of London in 1966.


What do you call them – Ladybug, Ladybird, or Ladybeetle?  Do you ever see them in your garden these days?  Did you used to recite the nursery rhyme as a child?

Ciao for now,

Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:

Leanne of Deep Fried Fruit
of Seize the Day Project
of 50 Shades of Age
of Debbish
and Jo of The Hungry Writer – Joanne Tracey

It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all six blogs.

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  • Reply Nikki@Wonderfully Women April 19, 2018 at 7:52 am

    I often find them in my garden, they are so cute.

    • Reply Min April 19, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Oh you lucky thing! I’ve got a garden full of marigolds but still don’t see them. I’ll have to put some of the tips in this post into action and go from there cos you’re right – they’re cute and I’d like to see them in my garden!

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee April 19, 2018 at 8:35 am

    I say both ladybird and ladybug. I also said the rhyme but all the kids died….charming! 😉 #Lovinglifelinky

    • Reply Min April 19, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      I actually say ladybeetle and ladybug more than I say ladybird. The words to that nursery rhyme are pretty terrible aren’t they? Funny how as a child I never really thought about it!

  • Reply Natalie April 19, 2018 at 8:52 am

    I call them ladybug. It’s still cold where I live for them to come out. Maybe in May, and on sunny days I see them.

    • Reply Min April 19, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      Once it warms up you’ll hopefully see more of them Natalie. I’ve learnt that they don’t like the cold. 🙂

  • Reply Vanessa April 19, 2018 at 8:59 am

    I think I call them ladybug…I think haha. It’s funny how we don’t know what word we use when we’re asked 🙂

    • Reply Min April 19, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      I know exactly what you mean. I’ve had to really think about it too and came to the conclusion that I’ve probably used all variations at times!

  • Reply jodie filogomo April 19, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    We call them ladybugs. And they were my friend’s favorite “bug” and so I think of her dearly whenever I see one!!

    • Reply Min April 19, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      It seems they are ladybugs over in the US and Canada. Many call them that here too but most ‘official’ Aussie website that I researched refer to them as Ladybirds so I thought I’d better use that word in my post. I myself have called them all three variations I think! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond April 19, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Yes, I miss them too Min. At my MIL’s aged care home, they have a lovely BBQ area and garden with lots of flower beds plus pots of flowers on tables scattered around. Last time I went I noticed some little ceramic ladybirds that were stuck to potplants. They looked so cute.

    • Reply Min April 19, 2018 at 4:38 pm

      Those little ceramic ladybirds sure do sound cute Sue! I absolutely love ladybirds. I wouldn’t mind some ceramic ones in my garden. Maybe I should investigate! 🙂

  • Reply Kathy Marrris April 19, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    I call them Ladybirds too. You reminded me of that nursery rhyme that I had forgotten all about. I remember them crawling up my arm and their little feet tickling my skin. I absolutely adore them, but seldom see them around my place.

    • Reply Min April 19, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Listening to that nursery rhyme takes me right back to being a little girl again. It’s funny how we don’t really take much notice of the meaning of the words when we’re kids. I just thought it was a cute little song to set the ladybirds free to. I used to have them crawling all over me too – with their tickling little feet. I love those little critters! 🙂

  • Reply emma April 19, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    It’s always ladybird for me. I can’t say I’ve noticed a decline here in the UK but then I try and fill my garden full of wild flowers (so much easier to maintain) so maybe that’s why.

    • Reply Min April 20, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      It’s good to know they’re still flourishing and doing well over there in the UK! I think you’re right, in that it depends greatly on what is growing in the garden as to how many you’ll see about! 🙂

  • Reply Candi Randolph April 19, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    They are ladybugs in my world, and I realized that since moving to Florida from Michigan I haven’t seen even one! So I googled it to see if they reside here, which of course they do, with the warm climate. I will pay more attention now and hopefully will spot one soon!

    • Reply Min April 20, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      I think they’re Ladybugs for all over in the US and Canada! Hope you see one or two again soon! If not, maybe try some of the tips in this post to attract them into your garden. 🙂

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl April 20, 2018 at 7:27 am

    Beautiful post. Min. I call them ladybugs and sadly hardly seem them in the garden these days. But when I do, yes, it is pretty special.

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Min April 20, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      It’s sad that they seem to have declined in numbers around Australia. I’m wondering if its to do with that long period of drought we had and perhaps a change in what people are planting in their gardens these days. I think those two things combined with the use of pesticides might be why. I’m so totally an expert now! LOL xo

  • Reply Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit April 20, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I love lady birds too. I see them fairly regularly in Canberra. Not so much in the garden, but the do like to land on my hands/arms at least 5 or 6 times a year. So they must be around! It’s always so joyful when I come into contact with one. Reminds me of being a kid #teamlovinlife

    • Reply Min April 20, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      Oh it’s great to hear they’re still about over in Canberra! I honestly rarely see them anymore in Brisbane. When I was a child I would have a heap of them land on my arms and hands when out in the garden and I do miss that. They remind me of being a kid too. They’re such joyful little critters! (despite that horrid nursery rhyme! lol)

  • Reply Leanne April 20, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    They’re ladybirds for me and I love them. We don’t see them at all anymore – I wonder if it’s because I spent my childhood in Perth where the temperatures were a bit warmer than they are where we live now? I think the mass use of pesticides has probably taken its toll too. Such a shame because having a ladybird on your finger was special.

    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au
    R for Remember Silence

    • Reply Min April 20, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      Sad to not see them much anymore isn’t it Leanne? Yes, I think a combination of long droughts, the use of pesticides, and people opting for low maintenance drought resistant gardens … has all contributed to the decline in Ladybirds. My thoughts anyway!

  • Reply Sue April 20, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    I occasionally see them in our “garden” Min (I say garden, but it’s really a sandpit right now, lol), but not like I used to when I was growing up. They are the one insect I’ve always been happy to have crawling on me!

    • Reply Min April 23, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      I have to agree Sue – I don’t mind them crawling on me either – just wish I could find some!

  • Reply Debbie April 21, 2018 at 7:08 am

    I loved reading of the history here Min! I call them ladybirds and we have them in the garden but they’re not always obvious. That rhyme was always popular when I was growing up too.

    • Reply Min April 23, 2018 at 3:38 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading the history Debbie. I like to know some background behind things – it helps to understand! 🙂

  • Reply Jan Wild April 21, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Definitely Ladybirds and I too love them. I didn’t realise they need water sources; interesting. As a child I loved them so. We had a few end up in our house in Victoria, I always liked to gently take them back outside. We have done a lot of damage with pesticides, it would be nice to see a ladybird resurgence.

    • Reply Min April 23, 2018 at 3:40 pm

      I didn’t know a lot of things in this post about Ladybirds either Jan. I learn so much through my blog! lol So many of us have lovely childhood memories of time in the garden with Ladybirds. It’d be nice for kids of today to also build the same kind of memories.

  • Reply Mick November 10, 2019 at 12:01 am

    Still see Ladybirds here in London. Plenty to so i am not really sure what conditions are needed to have them in the garden. We must have it right because they never went away. Now, whether they are the same type of ladybird back from when we were kids is another matter. We are apparently getting insects and other wildlife here that we should not be seeing here. They have been able to migrate as temperatures change. Conversely, more native insects/animals may be dying out or moving somewhere else where they are more used to, climate wise.

    • Reply Min November 11, 2019 at 1:54 pm

      Maybe it’s the cooler climate over there? Some parts of Australia see more ladybirds than where I live in Brisbane … but I miss the days of my childhood when I could wander outside to the garden and always find one. I always adored them! We have also lost our skinks and now have ghecko’s instead … that poop everywhere and make a very distinctive sound at night and then there’s the sparrows that have disappeared from Brisbane … but I saw lots of them in Melbourne. I could go on!

  • Reply Mick November 11, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    As far as poop goes, Foxes are our main contributor for that. We are over run with them. They are bin divers too. Now the rubbish has to be left out in plastic bags instead of the old fashion dustbins, this has become a problem. Sparrows we still have along with lots of pigeons. Had to take one to the animal quack the other day as a cat had got it and injured its wing. Hopefully, they sorted it out in a positive way.
    PS Certainly cooler here than in Brisbane. Think Melbourne right now is a bit nippy from what i hear and more like London. Of course, that will change in the next few weeks. I will be in Melbourne next February and expect it to be rather warmer than London!!!!

    • Reply Min November 12, 2019 at 4:24 pm

      I think foxes are a problem in parts of Australia too. I live in suburbia so no problem here. Yes Melbourne is cold right now which is very weird but not unusual for there! I hope you enjoy your visit there.

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