Tuesday 10 August 2010

Learning About Ladybirds

Last week our garden bug of choice was the ladybird. Garden Boy loves ladybirds. He gets very excited every time he spots one and loves to let them crawl onto his hand. Even when one of them nipped his arm he was happy to go back for more. So it wasn't hard to get him interested in learning all about these friendly garden creatures. Garden Girl on the other hand was trying her hardest to persuade us to stick with butterflies and caterpillars so the first thing we did was to look at the similarities between the two and eventually she was persuaded.

Things to Tell your Toddler

  • The lifecycle of a Ladybird is the same as a butterflies 
  • A ladybird lays a tiny egg, out of which emerges a ladybird larvae. 
  • The ladybird larvae spends all its time eating blackfly, much like a caterpillar spends all its time eating leaves. 
  • Like the caterpillar, the ladybird larvae sheds it skin a number of times
  • The last time the ladybird larvae sheds its skin it turns into a pupa, just like a caterpillar goes into its chrysalis
  • A few weeks later an adult ladybird emerges from the pupa
  • There are around 46 different species of ladybird in the UK.
  • Not all ladybirds have the same number of spots. In fact, many have no spots at all.
  • Ladybirds crawl on 6 legs but also have wings for flying.
  • Ladybirds have two antennae which they use to feel, smell and taste
  • Ladybirds eyes are shaped like hexagons so they can see a lot of different directions all at the same time.
  • Ladybirds eat aphids which are tiny insects such as the black fly and green fly which suck all the juice out of leaves, ruining our lovely veggies
  • Ladybirds are bright colours as a warning to predators that they do not taste very nice. 
Activities We Have Done

  • We made 'The Ladybird Game' and played it lots. I remember playing this when I was a little girl so it was really nice to play it with our Little Garden Helpers. The rules are simple; If you throw a one you get a body, throw a two and you get a head, throw a three and you get an antenna, throw a four and you get a spot, throw a five and you get an eye, throw a six and you get a leg. The winner is the first person to make a complete ladybird. It is a really simple board game for toddlers to play and the best thing is, you can make all the pieces yourself.
  • We visited a local museum and made a ladybird mask. Garden Girl insisted that the spots should look tidy!  

  • We took inspiration from 'Mister Maker's, Minute Make Time' and made ladybirds with air drying clay. They had a lot of fun making these and I had a lot of fun watching them play with them. They made them dance and talk to each other until in true boy fashion, Garden Boy decided to pull the legs off his, announcing afterwards, with a leg held high and a slightly forlorn look that 'my ladybird can't dance anymore.' At least it wasn't a real one!
  • We read one of our all time favourite books, 'What the Ladybird Heard' by Julia Donaldson, over and over again, and enjoyed reading 'The Bad Tempered Ladybird' by Eric Carle.
  • We went into our garden in the drizzling rain and counted and identified the different types of ladybird and ladybird larvae, then logged our results on the UK Ladybird Survey website.
  • We searched the internet and our own photos for pictures of ladybirds and discussed what we would look like if we were ladybirds. Garden Girl decided she would be red, with seven black spots just like the 7-spot ladybirds we found in our garden. Garden Boy wanted to be orange with wobbling green spots. A number was never decided upon.
For Garden Boy the highlight was definitely spotting all the Ladybirds in the garden. He brought his wheelbarrow with him as he thought we were going to collect them all and had loads of fun trying to encourage them onto his finger and then into the wheelbarrow. For Garden Girl and myself the best bit was playing 'The Ladybird Game', Garden Girl thrilled with the knowledge that she was doing something I used to enjoy and me, thrilled to be able to share a simple childhood memory of my own with her.


  1. oohh Ladybirds are little sweetpeas fav insect - she used to spend all her time on the way back from school asking me to put them back on flowers for her if they were on the pavement :-)

  2. Mister Maker is such an inspiration for my fun with the kids! It looks like you had a great time.