Garden Wheelie Bins

It was whilst working as a gardener that I rediscovered my interest in ladybirds and discovered the inconspicuous ladybirds.

It was when I realised that I could easily find the inconspicuous ladybirds by watching them climb out of garden wheelie bins, packed with garden prunings, that my obsession with this group started.

I have found 10 species of inconspicuous ladybirds on or in garden wheelie bins containing garden prunings:

Round-keeled Ladybird

Pointed-keeled Ladybird

Forestier's Ladybird

Red-headed Ladybird

Ivy Ladybird

Red-patched Ladybird

Red-rumped Ladybird

Conifer Ladybird

Red-flanked Ladybird

Dot Ladybird

This is a very useful way to find these species.

It is necessary to get ones eye in, as they are not always obvious.

Not only are they small but they can tuck away in the smallest corners of the hinge or inside the lid.

In hot sunny weather, Red-flanked Ladybird can run up the inside of the bin and immediately fly off on arriving at the top. Speed is needed to pot these, before they are gone.

In cool weather, it can be several hours before any individuals show themselves.

Sometimes they may sit in the open on top of the lid.

Otherwise simply lift up the lid and check the underside and then the hinges and insides.They can even be found several days later.

Leyland Cypress prunings containing six Red-headed Ladybirds
Firethorn prunings containing a Forestier's Ladybird
Mixed prunings containing a Dot Ladybird

Red-flanked, Round-keeled and Forestier's Ladybirds are amongst the most likely species to find, especially if pruning Firethorn, Cotoneaster, Euonymus,  Privet and Ivy.

When pruning Leyland Cypress, Red-headed Ladybird is a likely species to look for.

I have found large numbers of Dot Ladybirds, when cutting back Daylilys, Hemerocallis, by hand and stuffing these into a wheelie bin. This has been in September when the plants are starting to die off.

I used to work in a garden in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, that contained a Firethorn, Pyracantha, hedge. I would find several Red-flanked Ladybirds in the garden wheelie bin everytime I pruned this hedge.

One day I decided to try beating the hedge with a stick and umbrella. 

To my surprise I found several Ivy Ladybirds in the umbrella but no Red-flanked Ladybirds.

This was repeated many times.

Many Red-flanked and a few Ivy Ladybirds in the wheelie bin and many Ivy and a few Red-flanked Ladybirds in the umbrella.

I have concluded that when disturbed Red-flanked Ladybirds cling onto the branch they are on. They stay in place long enough for the prunings to be picked up from the ground and placed in the bin. They are not easy to knock into the umbrella because they hold fast when disturbed.

In contrast, I think Ivy Ladybird drops to the ground when disturbed. This makes them easy to dislodge into an upturned umbrella but they do not often turn up in wheelie bins because by the time the prunings have been picked up from the ground and placed in the bin they will have released there grip on the branches, possibly even as the hedge is being pruned.

Red-flanked Ladybird
Clings to branches, a frequent occupant of wheelie bins.
Ivy Ladybird
Drops to ground when disturbed, not often in garden wheelie bins.

Copyright Andrew Jewels 2019-2020