Ladybirds

(Order: Coleoptera)






7-spot Ladybird, eggs, larvae, pupa and adults (Coccinella 7-punctata) (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

A very common insect loved by gardeners for their vociferous aphid eating habit. This is probably one of the only insects I can identify with almost certainty. A number of ladybirds are red with black spots, but this common one always has seven spots. The bright yellow eggs are usually neatly stacked on their tips - these look like they've been bowled over, but you can see how tiny they are relative to the dock leaf on which they've been laid in the right-hand photograph - get your magnifying glass out! Because the eggs are not neatly stacked, there is a possibility they are in fact some other insect eggs, such as dock green beetle eggs. Anyway, a ladybird larva (middle left and centre photos) emerges from the egg and later forms a pupa (middle right photo) from which the adult ladybird emerges, orange to start with and darkening to deep red with age. How the ugly big bugs in the middle photos (not true bugs...obviously) metamorph into the beautiful adult ladybird is one of life's mind-boggling mysteries to me. And the collective name for ladybirds - a loveliness of ladybirds - how perfect is that?







Larch ladybird (Aphidecta obliterata)  (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

One of the few ladybirds without spots. Although, having said that, some larch ladybirds do have black spot like markings, as can be seen in the bottom photo of a larch ladybird that very kindly landed on my sleeve. Wouldn’t it be great if its Latin name derived from its obliteration of aphids? And it looks like such a cute harmless thing as well. Typical features are its brown wing cases, the black line down the middle, and the dark ‘M’ or 'W' (depending on which way you look at it) on its pronotum. Apparently, these ladybirds can ‘reflex bleed’ as a defence against attack.








Two-spot Ladybirds and larva (Adalia bipunctata) (Queen’s Park, South Glasgow)

This usually has one black spot on each orange or red elytra, as can been seen in the photo on the top. The pronotum has a white patch at each side of the black ‘M’ /‘W’. It does more rarely come in a red spot on black background variety, as with the two-spot ladybirds in the left hand and middle photos at the bottom. As you can see, the two-spot ladybird on the left has four spots, and the two-spot ladybird in the middle has six spot. In fact this species can have anything between zero and six spots, with two being the most common, hence its name. This species is smaller than the more common 7-spot ladybird and although abundant in most of the UK, the red variety in particular is quite rare in Scotland. Supposedly, the black variety is more common in the north as it is better able to absorb the sun's heat - I'm not convinced - on that analysis most Scottish insects should be black by now. Apparently you can buy its larvae (photo on the right) on the internet for pest control purposes.


  




7-spot and larch ladybirds (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

Awwh pals, ain’t that nice? This shows the relative sizes of the two ladybirds, but I don’t fancy your chances if you’re an aphid on this plant. You may have heard of harlequin ladybirds invading Britain and threatening the traditional British ladybird’s existence. Whilst they seemed to be widespread on a trip to London I had recently, I have found no harlequin ladybirds in Scotland as yet. I am really hoping that Scotland will prove that little bit too cold for them to bear.dreich for them and that we won’t lose our panoply of these beautiful creatures.







Ten-spot Ladybird (Adalia decempunctata, or 10-punctata)(with soon to be ex-aphids top left)  (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll/Pollok Country Park, Glasgow)

This species is usually about 4 - 5mms long and is exceedingly variable in its colouring. It can be red, or pale red or orange with black spots (see the bottom left photo), black with red or orange spots (see two top photos) and worse still, despite its name, it can have a variety of number of spots, like the bimaculata (or two spot) form in the bottom right photo. Like many ladybirds, both the larva and the adults feed on aphids.








Cream-spotted Ladybird (Culvia 14-guttata) (Parklands Country Club, South West Glasgow)

I was very lucky to find this ladybird as they usually live high up in deciduous trees. Unfortunately, it’s not very clear from this photo, but six of the cream spots form a line across the wing cases - you can see five of them in this picture on the second row. These ladybirds looks very like the orange ladybird, particularly when they’re young, but they can easily be distinguished if you count the spots, orange ladybirds have 16 spots and are a lighter orange colour (see below) whereas the cream ladybird has 14.







Orange Ladybird (Halysia 16-guatttata) (Rouken Glen Park, Glasgow)

How stunning is this little creature? Here's the sequence of events as it approaches and eats some poor unsuspecting egg- although presumably it's not a living egg as orange ladybirds are apparently vegetarians, which is a bit strange given most ladybirds are voracious aphid eaters. All I had seen all summer was one 7-spot ladybird and then suddenly, as the summer is coming to an end, I spotted this on the underside of a sycamore leaf (which apparently is where they like it). These are pretty rare at the best of times and are more common in the south of Britain, so I am particularly pleased about finding this in my local park. From some angles it looks like it is wearing a clear visor - and it looks as if it can retract its head under its pronotum (the bit behind the head). It also looks like the edges of its elytra (wing cases) are clear. It is a much lighter orange colour than the 14-spot ladybird above, and its pronotum is a light orangey-yellow colour. The 16 spots aren't that easy to count, but I'm sure there are. Absolutely beautiful - I can't take me eyes off of it.







 Fourteen-spot Ladybird (top photo mating, middle photos adult and bottom photo larva) (Propylea 14-punctata) (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

This is one of the most beautiful species of ladybirds I’ve seen, with its peculiar joined up ‘square’ spots. The markings can be variable, although it always has a black line down its middle. Also, the pronotum has a black crown-like pattern on it. This is one of the largest Scottish ladybirds and can reach the grand old age of 2 years. Whilst it is common in the rest of Britain, it is more scarce in Scotland. 








Cream-streaked Ladybird (Harmonia quadripunctata) (Centre Parcs, Sherwood Forest, Nottingham)

Ok, I feel like a bit of a fraud including this one. As you can see, I found this one in England, and it's not really surprising as they are extremely rare in Scotland, but they have apparently been found here. They weren't found in England until the 1930's and have only recently been found further north. Still, now that I found it, or more accurately my son found it (and got paid handsomely for doing so!) I couldn't not include it. The elytra (wing cases) of cream-streaked ladybirds are very variable both in colour (can be pink, yellow or salmon coloured) and number of spots - although luckily the cream streaks on this one are noticeable. The distinguishing feature in this species is the numerous black spots on its light coloured pronotum (the bit behind the head). There are usually between 5 and 9 spots on the pronotum. Whilst this one was found in our holiday lodge, the house was surrounded by confer trees which is where they like to live.