Posted by: Ross Gardner | May 14, 2016

Ladybirds

Two-spot Ladybird (Adalia 2-punctata). Ross Gardner 2015

Two-spot Ladybird (Adalia 2-punctata). Ross Gardner 2015

There’s more to ladybirds than red ones with a few black spots.  These last couple of weeks I have, among other things, seen several of their tribe.  It comes as a surprise to many that we have more than forty species resident in the UK.  Those that I have seen lately are just a few of our 46 species.

The “red ones with a few black spots” are most often the very common Seven-spot Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata), surely one of the most familiar of all our insects and ones with a legendary and beneficial appetite for blackfly aphids.  One red and black beastie did put a broader smile on my face than usual, when noticed it the other day on one of my garden Buddleja bushes.  Now, this may not be the case everywhere, but the Two-spot Ladybird (Adalia 2-punctata) seems to have dramatically declined, in Essex at least, over the last decade or so.  I remember them as a child being as abundant as the Seven-spots, but over recent years I have hardly ever seen them. In 2004 a new ladybird species arrived in the UK and perhaps the fears that it might outcompete some native species are being realised.  Certainly, the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) have already become a common and widespread insect.  Hopefully though, the sight of Two-spots around the place will become a more regular occurrence.

One little creature however, was a first for me.  One of my colleagues (www.uk-wildlife.co.uk) at Wat Tyler Country Park noticed a small beetle running across his desk.  He had his camera to hand and a hastily taken picture or two confirmed it as a Water Ladybird (Anisosticta 19-punctata).  These tiny (4mm) species are frequenters of wetland habitats and are another hunter of aphids.  This one had presumably hitched a lift into our office from the pond-side and reed-bed habitats at the park.

The small yellow Fourteen-spots (Propylea 14-punctata) and Twenty-two-spots (Psyllobora 22-punctata) complete my Coccinellid cast list of recent weeks.  As for the other 40 species…… I’ll keep you posted.

Water Ladybird (Anisosticta 19-punctata). Copyright 2016 Neil Phillips.

Water Ladybird (Anisosticta 19-punctata). Copyright 2016 Neil Phillips.

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. Ladybugs/birds are up there on the insect cuteness scale. Your photo of the two-spot is very good … and that you found it on the mauve buds adds to the interest.

    • Thanks. Sometimes pictures have a habit of making themselves.


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