We Can’t Ask The Last One In The Chain...
Now, Can We?
The Ladybug Eats The Aphids!
So the lady does have some predators out there.
Who eats the ladybug?.. some birds, frogs, wasps, spiders, dragonflies. It’s a pretty good list and that’s not all of it.
As small insects go, usually they don’t have much of a lifetime to worry about predators or anything else.
But as predators go, she does not have many.
Why Not Eat A Ladybug?
How did Ms Ladybug become so lucky?
She smells baaad. Has a shell as hard as a toenail and she tastes awful!
Lucky her!.. For putting up with that horrible bio, she adds several more months to her
two to four-year lifespan!
Only a young bird will attack a ladybug for consumption. He’s foolish!
He learns his lesson quickly.
Don’t eat a ladybug!.. He won’t do that again!..
Ms Ladybug will be consumed by someone else!
Is there a one-sided theme going on here?
Do we favour the birds?
Is There A Beautiful Aphid?
Birds are beautiful!
Have you seen a closeup of an aphid?
Does the aphid care? It’s his job to survive and reproduce.
He needs to be fat and juicy to nourish his lucky food chain up-line.
What do the aphids eat?
They suck the plant’s sap, and from this, they get sugars, minerals, and other elements.
Doing this allows the aphid to give nourishment to the ladybug, AND the hummingbird.
An aphid is a plant louse, and there are about 4,000 different species.
If you ever want to know if you have aphids, check your roses!
That’s usually where they start.
And if they are allowed to thrive unchecked, they will spread everywhere!
Bring On The Ladybugs!
They are eating machines and eat up to 1,000 aphids a day! Each!
You can buy ladybugs by the box full from some nurseries.
Then sprinkle them onto the aphid-infested plants and watch them do their job!
They eat up to two times their body weight!
You would think with all that food that they would be too cumbersome to fly.
The food should keep them in your garden. Am I right?
How Do I Keep Them On The Farm?
Make sure your garden is alluring before you buy the little wandering critters.
Within one day, 90% of them will fly away to a garden that has more flowers than yours, is prettier than yours, and bigger than yours!
Do you remember the times as a child you let one crawl up your hand and onto your finger and it walked all the way to the tip?.. And she flew away.
That should have been an indication right there.
They are not home-bodies!
Oh Wait, This Is Funny!
Just for fun, this year I planted nasturtium seeds in a lovely, empty pot.
Now I have learned that nasturtiums attract aphids.
Oh yes, that was funny.
Then, I’m to put the nasturtiums near other plants to protect them from the aphids.
The nasturtium LURES the aphids to them.
Now I have to control the nasturtiums, to make sure they don’t die.
Nowhere on the package does it say “may attract aphids”!
No, I did not do my research before I planted the seeds. (Do your research)
If it has aphids I don’t want it next to the other plants... This does not work for me.
The aphids have to go.
So What Happens Now?
He’s ugly, he’s a pest, so why do we need him?… ask the ladybug.
Ask the hummingbird.
They are up the food chain… too bad for the aphid.
About 90% of insects we see in the garden, are not harmful but don’t relax about this.
Remember that they suck the sugar and elements from the plants?
Aphids are HARMFUL! In very warm countries they are considered to be the plague.
They can destroy everything!
They are sucking the life out of the plants!
So if there are enough of them, they can kill the whole crop!
Just doing their job… but because nature is so structured, they are good for the planet
What Do Hummers Devour?
Hummingbirds eat aphids too – ok, I’m sorry about that.
Nothing personal, it’s just fact.
BUT, here’s the other better news! They eat spiders!
And 60% to 80% of their diet is spiders!
Ever seen the hummingbird flitting around your eaves and looking into corners on the porch?
I always thought they were curious and wanted to see inside the house! Like a voyeur.
I thought they were confused with their own reflection in the window!
What did I know?
They are looking for webs, so they can eat the spiders!
They are doing every woman a great service because most of us are scared of spiders!
And How Do They Do This?
Mamma is so smart that she builds her nest in the webbed area.
That way when the babies are born, she is near the food source.
This is their suburbia!.. Meals on wheels – Delivered fresh!
She is the only one who builds the nest and tends the babies. She has two eggs and sits on them for three weeks. I could never sit in the same spot for three weeks!
Daddy doesn’t have anything to do with the kids and they better know how to fly in 21 days!
Right on time, dad leaves the homestead and the family – just like a country song.
Hummingbirds and ladybugs maintain a truce. They work at opposite ends of the garden.
The ladybug’s terrible smell keeps it a friendly and long-distance relationship.
The Emelia Earhart Of Aviation!
Hummingbirds have acute vision and catch their insects in flight! They are the aviation wonders of nature!
The insects don’t have a chance with the hummingbird!
They can hover and fly forward and backward, at 30 mph!.. They can fly upside-down!
(Read “What are Pollinators?” for fun facts about the hummingbird!).
They have their limitations though. They are unable to open their beaks wide.
Because it would harm the petals of the flowers when they are sucking nectar.
Nature thought of everything!
Like a vacuum, they suck out the nourishment, and if there is a tiny bug in the flower, they can suck him up too!.. It’s kind of an add-on to the meal. A freebie.
But it doesn’t happen often and he couldn’t live on those extras.
He has a high metabolism and eats every 15 minutes!
How Much Fun Is He Really?
They do their job to rid your garden of spiders and mosquitos and you have the fun of watching them.
They will hover before your eyes! Their wings beat 70 times per second. Hear that “whoosh” sound?
Sit still... and he might fly upside-down, just for you.
They give you joy just by being there, and they can recognize you!
Go ahead; give him a name!
The Dragonfly With The Girl Tatoo!
They look so elegant! Like a tall lady in a long dress!
They often have those transparent wings and a long slim body.
It is not as if they don’t eat, they consume their own body weight every day.
They are active and quick – they fly off the weight!
I know! The ladybug can eat twice as much!.. At least the dragonfly doesn’t smell bad!
Dragonflies eat mosquitos, midges, bees, flies, and other dragonflies.
That might narrow down their friendship pool!
But here is the dragonfly’s real triumph of nature!
They are a barometer for clean air. If they are in your garden then the air is devoid of pollution!
That’s why you don’t see them in inner cities and urban areas… They could not live in that air!
So while they are colourful and nice to watch, they keep your garden clean and you know your air is clean just by having them… This is a win/win for us!
There’s A Frog In My Garden!
Ok. He’s green. But pink and red were taken!
He can do a lot of good things!
Kermit will croak at night in spring to attract a female.
I know he’s loud. He might even be a bullfrog!
But this is to be expected in the country. It’s why we move here!
Once they have found each other, it is not a long courtship, but it is kind of romantic.
The male wraps his arms around the female.
She drops her eggs and he fertilizes them!.. That’s it!
The eggs are in the place they will stay for sixteen weeks until they become froglets.
This is passive parenting to perfection!
Only Fresh Food For Him!
They like their meals fresh… as in LIVE!
As long as they have crickets, worms, cockroaches, caterpillars, slugs, spiders, and grasshoppers, they will make us happy.
The female frog can “flit” out her tongue and catch a bug in 1/10th of a second!
We couldn’t even see that! The meal would be over by the time we caught on!
And they can absorb moisture and breathe through their skin… They also have lungs!
Being green has its compensations!
A word of caution: if the frog is brightly coloured, blue, red, or yellow, they are probably poisonous.
Stay away from them; stick to the green ones and you’ll be safe.
Wash your hands after being in the garden... No, you don’t get warts from frogs.
But they can emit a toxin to deter other animals, especially dogs.
This could upset their digestion. Consult your vet.
If you have a garden that has attracted a frog or two, you can congratulate yourself.
You have a balanced ecosystem, or the frogs wouldn’t be there!
What’s The Verdict?
If we did not have frogs, hummingbirds, ladybugs, and dragonflies, in our garden, we would have an explosion of harmful insects!
We would not be able to keep our ecosystem strong on our own.
Most of these are recognized pollinators.
Nature provides them with the food they need to do the job assigned to them.
(See “What Are Pollinators” for a fun trip down insect lane!)
Without this food chain, which nature has provided, we would hardly have food to eat.
Everything is put here for a reason, and, naturally, they rid our gardens of 80% of unwanted insects!
Nature is all about harmony!.. Listen to nature!