Posted 8th Jun 2018
Have you seen any Ladybirds flying around your garden this year?
Did you know there are over 40 different species of ladybird that are found in the UK?
The ladybird's lifecycle consists of four phases: the egg; the larval stage (during this period, the larva undergoes a series of moults); the pupa (in which the larva develops into an adult); and the adult phase (when the female will lay eggs in batches of up to 40).
We look at some of the different species of Ladybird you could potentially encounter this summer...
2-spot Ladybird (Adalia bipunctata)
Image courtesy of Rachel Scopes
The most common ladybird, many of us will be familiar with the black-on-red markings of this insect. The medium-sized ladybird is found in a wide variety of habitats, including parks, towns and gardens. Both the adults and larvae will feed on aphids, making them a friend to your garden. Adults will hibernate over winter in bark, or sometimes in house, congregating in large numbers. The 2-spot Ladybird will typically be red with two black spots on the wing cases, but will also come in other colour forms, right through to black with two red spots. This could cause some confusion with the 10-spot Ladybird, which are the same size and have a variable pattern. However, 2-spot Ladybirds have black legs, compared to the orange of the 10-spot.
Probably the UK's most common ladybird, it's also the one you're most likely to find indoors during the winter months.
7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)
Image courtesy of Rachel Scopes
Another of our more common ladybirds, the black on red markings create a very familiar sight. Ladybirds are beneficial insects and can be encouraged by putting up a bug box.
The 7-spot is the ladybird everyone will be familiar with. Virtually a ubiquitous inhabitant of gardens and parks, the 7-spot Ladybird turns up anywhere there are aphids to feed on. Hibernating in hollow plant stems and cavities, they will sometimes cluster together in large numbers. The 7-spot Ladybird is also a migratory species, with large numbers flying in from the continent every spring, boosting our native population in the process.
The 7-spot Ladybird is easy to recognise due to its red wing cases, which are dotted with a pattern of seven black spots. It also has a black-and-white-patterned thorax.
The bright colours of ladybirds will warn predators that they are distasteful, even though birds may still have a go at eating them. As well as this, they also have another defence mechanism - they release a pungent, yellow substance from their joints that can stain the hands, as a form of 'controlled bleeding'.
14-spot Ladybird (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata)
Image courtesy of Amy Lewis
One of three yellow ladybirds in the UK, keep your eyes peeled in grassland, woodland and gardens. Ladybirds are beneficial insects, managing garden pests and encouraging them by putting up a bug box.
The 14-spot Ladybird is a medium-sized ladybird which you'll find in a wide variety of habitats, particularly grassland, woodland edges, towns and gardens. Both adults and larvae will feed on aphids, making it a friend in the garden. The 14-spot Ladybird has a long hibernation period and emerges as late as May to breed.
You can identify the 14-spot Ladybird due to its 14 rectangular black spots on the wing case, which are variable in shape and could become fused to create a chequered pattern. It can be distinguished from the smaller, but similar, 22-spot Ladybird by its more rectangular, merging spots.
The 14-spot Ladybird is one of only three yellow ladybirds to inhabit the UK. Its bright colouration acts as a warning to predators that it is distasteful, but birds may still try to eat it.
22-spot Ladybird (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata)
Image courtesy of © Jon Hawkins SurreyHillsPhotography
Another one of the three yellow ladybirds in the UK, the small 22-spot Ladybird can be found in a wide range of habitats, including grassland, woodland edges, towns and gardens. Feeding on mildew (fungus) that is on a variety of plants, the Ladybird has 22 round, black spots on the wing cases.
It can be identified from the larger 14-spot Ladybird by its more rounded spots that will never merge into each other.
Orange Ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata)
Image courtesy of Nancy Coppock
A pale orange with as many as 16 cream spots on its wing case, the orange ladybird will feed on mildew on trees like sycamore and ash, hibernating in the leaf litter. It will often turn up in moth traps.
A large ladybird that feeds on mildew (fungus) on trees, the orange ladybird is particularly partial to sycamores. However, it's recently spread on to ash and is increasing in number. It will hibernate in leaf litter, or in sheltered location.
A pale orange colour and with between 14 and 16 white spots, it's like the cream-spot ladybird but is a darker browny-orange colour and is a little bit smaller. Cream-spot ladybirds are often found on bushes and at woodland edges. Widespread in England and Wales, it is a rarer sight in Scotland.
Harlqeuin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)
Image courtesy of Amy Lewis
A non-native species that originates from Asia, the Harlequin Ladybird is proving to have a negative impact on wildlife, out-competing our native ladybirds for food and eating their larvae and eggs. It's particularly prevalent in towns and gardens.
The non-native first arrived in the UK in 2004, and since then, it's rapidly become one of the most common ladybirds in the country, proving especially common in towns and gardens. The invasive beetle is one of our larger species and is a voracious predator. Out-competing our native species for aphid-prey, it will also eat the eggs of other ladybirds, along with their larvae. It can have multiple broods during the spring, summer and autumn, giving it a competitive edge.
Extremely variable in appearance, they can have up to 19 black spots on a red of orange background. There is also a melanic form, with two or more red spots on a black background. There is an obvious white triangle in the centre of the head as well, which is something that neither of the other two similarly sized species have.
Eyed Ladybird (Anatis ocellata)
The Eyed Ladybird makes an unmistakeable sight - it's our only ladybird to have yellow rings around its black spots.
A large ladybird, it will typically be found on, or near, conifers, and in particular, pine trees. Both adults and larvae will feed on aphids, which makes them a friend of the garden.
The unmistakeable ladybird is easy to identify - it's larger than the other ladybirds and it the only one to have 'eyed' spots (that's black spots ringed with yellow). Its wing cases are also red.
Did you know it's the UK's largest native ladybird?
Information and text courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts