Can you spot these la­dy­birds?

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

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 lanc­ uk or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728.

The seven-spot la­dy­bird is the most com­mon

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