Ladybugs, Ladybugs, Come to My GardenWritten by Lesley Dietschy
Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybirds, can be a gardener’s best friend. The ladybug’s bright coloring brings welcomed cheer to garden, as well as helping with pest control. Since medieval times, ladybugs have been valued by farmers all over world. Many believe that ladybug was divinely sent to free crops of insect pests. In fact, that is how ladybug got its name. People dedicated bug to Virgin Mary and therefore called it “The Bug of our Lady”, which was eventually shortened to present name “ladybug”.
Adult ladybugs are usually oval or domed shaped and have red wings, yellow wings or shades and variations of these colors. The number of black spots can range from no spots to 15 spots and they are typically about one quarter inch in size or smaller.
The length of life cycle of a ladybug varies depending upon temperature, humidity, and food supply. Usually life cycle from egg to adult is about three to four weeks, and up to six weeks during cooler spring months. During spring adult female ladybug can lay up to three hundred eggs in an aphid colony. The eggs normally hatch in two to five days. The newly hatched larvae feed on aphids for up to three weeks and then enter pupae stage. About one week later, adult ladybug emerges. There can be as many as six generations of ladybugs hatched in a year.
The ladybug enjoys popularity around world. These pretty insects have long been considered a symbol of good luck and fortune because of their ability to eat an enormous amount of aphids. One ladybug can eat as many as 50 to 60 aphids per day. Aphids (also called plant lice) are herbivores and are one of worst groups of pests on plants. They feed in colonies and damage plants by sucking juice out of leaves, stems, or roots. While aphids feed, they damage plant tissue creating a loss of plant fluids and photosynthetic tissue needed to produce energy for plant growth. Some plants will show no adverse response to aphids, while others react with twisted, curled or swollen leaves or stems. Aphids also transmit many plant diseases from one plant to another.
Apart from aphids, ladybugs eat a variety of other insects and larvae including white flies, mealy bugs, spider mites, and other types of soft-bodied insects. They also require a source of pollen for food and for that reason are attracted to certain types of plants. Their preferred plants have umbrella shaped flowers such as dill, fennel, angelica, tansy, caraway, cilantro, yarrow, and wild carrot. Other plants that attract ladybugs include cosmos (especially white ones), dandelions, coreopsis, and scented geraniums.
About Hummingbirds and How to Attract Them to Your GardenWritten by Lesley Dietschy
Visualize watching a bright green hummingbird in your garden moving from flower to flower in search of tasty nectar within. These beautiful and tiny birds weigh about 2 to 20 grams and are found in a wide variety of environments from high Andes to lowlands, and from dry desert areas to rainforests. They have slender beaks, extensible tongues, ten primary feathers, and tiny feet suitable for perching but not walking.
Hummingbirds can fly straight up, straight down, backwards, left, right, and even upside down. While most birds obtain their flight strength only from down stroke, hummingbirds have power on up stroke as well.
Most hummingbirds flap their wings about fifty times a second and have a very fast heartbeat and high body temperature. They feed every ten minutes or so throughout day and typically consume two-thirds of their body weight in a single day. Their source of nutrition is primarily nectar from flowers, as well as sources of protein from insects and tiny spiders.
The key to attracting hummingbirds to your garden mainly consists of right type of flowers and places where they can perch and rest during day, such as trees or large plants. Hummingbirds are guided by visual means and are particularly attracted to certain shades of red. According to The Hummingbird Society, there are several possible explanations for their preference of red blossoms. Given that insects also see nectar, they can be regarded as competitors. Nearly all insects see well in visible and near-ultraviolet light but poorly in red end of spectrum. Also, a red blossom may appear nearly black and unattractive to a number of insects, but not to hummingbird, which can see full visible spectrum but also some in ultraviolet. This makes it less likely that an insect has taken nectar from a red flower. Another likely explanation is that during migration, red blossoms effectively contrast with a green environment more than other colored flowers do.
Hummingbirds are welcomed guests to nearly all gardens. By planting flowering shrubs and plants that are their favored food source, we can easily attract them to become regular visitors to our gardens. Below is a short list of their preferred flowering plants by common name, separated by region: