Can you spot these ladybirds?
OUR local pub quiz had a themed round of six questions this week. Who knows the colour of Mr Blobby’s spots? I certainly didn’t. We didn’t win the quiz this week.
It did get me thinking about the amount of spotty insects that we are seeing at the moment – moths, butterflies and ladybirds are colouring our fields and gardens at the moment.
Ladybirds are brilliant insects, well loved by everyone because of their bright colours and especially gardeners because they chomp on the nasty aphids that mess up your plants.
And there are quite a few kinds of ladybirds, for instance the seven-spot, the two-spot, the 12-spot, the eyed and the harlequin, which is a less popular invader to our shores.
Ladybirds should be all over gardens and parks this summer. While we have our own resident populations hibernating in plant stems and wall cavities, we also have some migratory fellows flying across from the Continent.
In summer you will find them on plants and grasses in your garden with their bright red, spotty wings forming a perfect dome shape. At the front you will see their faces a mix of black and white, they are really striking bugs.
The bright colours of ladybirds warn predators that they are distasteful, although some birds may still have a go at eating them. The seven-spot ladybird is easily recognised by its red wing cases with a pattern of seven black spots, combined with the familiar black-and-white patterned thorax.
The two-spot can be a little bit more difficult because it comes in two different colours. There is the usual red with two black spots on the wing cases, but it can be black with two red spots.
Amazingly the two-spot can be confused with the 10-spot, but if you check its legs two-spots are black and 10-spots are orange. The red-eyed ladybird is unmistakeable - it is larger than all the other ladybirds and is the only one that has ‘eyed’ spots - black spots ringed with yellow.
Then there is the harlequin ladybird, which arrived from Asia in 2004. It is large and a voracious predator able to outcompete other ladybirds and eat their eggs and larvae.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside, all lying north of the River Mersey. It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The Trust has 27,000 members and over 1,200 volunteers. To become a member go to the website at lancswt.org. uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728.
The seven-spot ladybird is the most common