Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Day 94 - The Beauty of the mini-beasts part 2

Hey everyone,

Well if the weather hasn't been too cold I probably did a night hike while you were reading yesterdays post and have probably been gorge walking today!

Eyed Ladybird (Anatis ocellata)
So, to day 2 of my panto inspired Beauty of the mini-beasts! What have I got for you today....well its another beetle but one that you probably know and love, the ladybird!

Despite them being everywhere I go I could only find one not very good photo of one, and that is to the left. It's not the most common ladybird either, you can probably just make out on the photo that the spots have a yellow border to them, its called an Eyed ladybird!

So what did I find out about ladybirds? Here's some facts:

  • There are around 40 species of ladybird in the UK the most common being the 2 spot and 7 spot ladybirds.
  • They are a beetle and their bright red wing cases (elytra) warn predators that they don't taste nice so they shouldn't be eaten.
  • Despite the warning and nasty taste some birds, such as swallows and swifts are immune to their defences and will eat them.
  • Ladybirds are great to have in the garden as they eat lots of aphids. This starts when they are a larvae. The mother lays eggs in colonies of aphids and as soon as they hatch they start to eat. They can munch their way through around 5,000 aphids during their life. 
  • Their life cycle has four stages egg-larvae-pupa- adult.
  • They overwinter, creeping into cracks and crevices and entering a dormant stage until spring when they emerge to mate. Sometimes ladybirds cluster together when they overwinter.
  • The Eyed Ladybird is a lucky find for my post, its the UK's largest ladybird and lives in conifers. I have a big one in my garden so I guess this guy lived there.
  • There is a lot of concern over the arrival in the UK of an invasive species of ladybird - the Harlequin - that might affect our native species. You can help by monitoring and reporting any that you see at the link below.
  • Harlequins are the most invasive ladybird on earth and as well as aphids will eat ladybird eggs, larvae and pupae as well as those of moths and butterflys.
  •  Native ladybirds need a dormant period before they can breed but harlequins don't so they can breed quicker.
So, a lovely creature that might need us all to help a little. You can find out more at the links below:

Hope you enjoyed,


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