Autumn Brings Surprises

Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis forma spectabilis) – As the land prepares for the winter slumber with October bedding in, the milder weather is keeping some indviduals away from their hibernation. It almost appears like spring has come early, with some spring flowering plants bursting into bloom. The world is so confused in more ways than one.

Round-keeled Ladybird

Rhyzobius chrysomeloides – Yes, believe it or not, not al ladybirds are brightly coloured and have spots, some can be quite inconspicuous like this one. It is small, very small, at 2.5-3.5 mm (about 1/8 in) long. It is a fairly recent discovery, first found in Britain as recently as 1996, on a pine tree on a motorway embankment in Surrey. It has been steadily spreading northwards ever since.

Round-keeled Ladybird Rhyzobius chrysomeloides

A Little Red On Black

Pine Ladybird Exochomus quadripustulatus

This is a new species for me in the garden. It is the Pine Ladybird (Exochomus quadripustulatus). It is quite small between 3 to 4mm long. It has a distinct rim around the base of the wingcases. Although it is mainly found where Pine grows, it also likes Hawthorn which I happen to have in the garden.

September 2019 © Pete Hillman.


Another Yellow Ladybird

14-spotLadybird Propylea quattuordecimpunctata
14-spotLadybird (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata)

This one has quite a long name. Don’t try saying it backwards … you might bump into something.

Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer.

July 2019, local field margin, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Yellow On Yellow

22-Spot Ladybird - Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata
22-Spot Ladybird – Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata

I discovered this little brightly coloured ladybird on my garden hose pipe. It is about 3–4mm long. This is one of three species of yellow ladybird in the UK, and it has the brightest yellow of the three. It feeds on mildews as opposed to greenfly.

Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer.

June 2019, front garden, South Staffordshire, England © Pete Hillman.


Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f succinea
Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis f succinea)

Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …

There appears to be quite a few of these around this year in the garden.

June 2019, rear garden, South Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.


Harlequin Ladybird Larva

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larva

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larva, June 2019, local woodland margin, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Standing Out From The Crowd

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f succinea

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f succinea

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f succinea

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f succinea

Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis f succinea) June 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.


New Generation

Early Instar Ladybird Larvae

I found a number of these by their egg cases not long having hatched on my crabapple tree at the bottom of the garden. They are ladybird larvae, first instar. They will go through four stages of moulting before pupating to become the brightly coloured adult beetle we all know.

June 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Eye To Eye With The Harlequin Ladybird

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f conspicua

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f conspicua

Double click on images to enlarge.

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f. conspicua, September 2017, rear garden, Staffordshire, England.

Coccinella septempunctata

7-spot Ladybird

7-spot Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata

Local field, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

A Ladybird Finally Gets Its Spots

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f.succinea

Let’s have a quick recap and start from the beginning shall we? We have a pair of the adult Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) mating.

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae

From the eggs the female laid after the union above we have the larva.

Harlequin Ladybird pupa

Then on the side of my green wheely bin I discovered what the larva changed into. This fresh pupa which then hardend and turned into …

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis pupa

… one of these, a later stage pupa. This is a different one I found on a Hawthorn leaf. And then back to the really green wheely bin and …

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis

… after keeping an eye on it for days I was lucky enough to just catch the adult emerging from the pupa case,

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis

Eventually the ladybird or ladybug gets its spots. This is a variety of Harlequin called succinea. The cycle will begin anew.

And all this going on within our midst as we go about our daily routines. Such is the wonder of nature.

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. May and June 2017.

Certainly A Bright One

Orange Ladybird Halyzia sedecimguttata

Very rare I get to see this one during the day, but it certianly likes my shed light at night. It is called the Orange Ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata). But I guess you might have guessed that 😉

Orange Ladybird Halyzia sedecimguttata

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.


Before The Ladybird We Have …

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae

… the larvae stage first. This is the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis). It readily consumes aphids just like the adult beetle does, so is a good friend to have in your garden. I try to resist the urge to use sprays on my roses, as usually, in the end, these little critters come to their rescue.

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Transformation II

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis pupa

I have come across quite a few of these bright red and black-spotted cases on roses and other plants in the garden. Which is good new for my plants as they are the pupa casings for the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis).

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis pupa

You can see the details of the adult ladybird beginning to show as this is nearing completion of its transformation. I am quite amazed at how these still manage to move whilst in the metamorphoses state. They can flip themselves upright as can be seen in the image directly above, or lie flat as in the first image. Maybe it is to do with temperature regulation, or maybe they can sense potential threats.

Anyway, all those aphids better watch out!

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.


Harlequin Ladybird pupa

I discovered this ladybird pupa on the side of my green wheely bin this morning. I think it is relatively fresh as it was still moving, pulsating and flicking. Where it is attached to the bin is the remains of the larva’s skin. I believe it is of that of a Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis).

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Harlequin Ladybirds

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f.succinea

Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis f. succinea) mating, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.

Orange Ladybird

Halyzia sedecimguttata

Orange Ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata)

This is an attractive ladybird with an orange ground colour and 12-16 white spots. It has orange legs. Length up to 6mm.

This ladybird breeds later in the year than most other species as it has to wait for sufficient mildew to grow on trees to feed their developing larvae. They overwinter in crevices in bark or leaf litter. Both the adults and larvae feed on powdery white mildews which grow on deciduous trees.

Seen April to October. Mainly found in woodland, but also urban settings like parks and gardens. Previously an indicator of ancient woodland, its recent move to sycamore and ash trees has caused its numbers to increase and it is common and widespread.

Photograph of Orange Ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata), taken June and October 2013, local wood and nature reserve. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

14-spot Ladybird

Propylea 14-punctata

14-spot Ladybird – Prop14-spot Ladybird (Propylea 14-punctata)ylea 14-punctata

Also referred to as ‘Propylea quatuordecimpunctata’, which is quite a mouthful, this is a small bright yellow ladybird with seven or more or less black rectangular or roundish spots on each elytron. There is a broad black line running along the suture, and in the centre maybe a rectangular spot. It is common to find individuals with fused spots.The legs are brown. Length up to 6mm.

Both the adults and larvae feed on aphids. Most active from May to September. Found in various habitats, but especially where there are trees and shrubs, including hedgerows and gardens. Common and widespread throughout.

Photograph taken of 14-spot Ladybird (Propylea 14-punctata)  June 2016, local woodland margin, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Cream-spot Ladybird

Calvia quattuordecimguttata

Cream-spot Ladybird (Calvia quattuordecimguttata)

A maroon-coloured beetle with 14 cream coloured spots. The pronotum is maroon with cream markings, and the legs are brown. Length 4 to 5mm.

They feed on aphids and psyllids (plant lice, and are seen April to October.

Found in deciduous woods and hedgerows. Common and widespread throughout Britain, but scarcer further north into Scotland.

Photograph taken of Cream-spot Ladybird (Calvia quattuordecimguttata) May 2014, local woodland margin, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.


Happy Families

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

I took these photos of this family of Greenfinches as they visited my feeder. Note how striking the male is in the centre of the top photo, compared to the brownish juvenile on the right, and the slightly duller female behind on the left and just out of focus.

They gather in flocks  together to feed, eating seeds from trees or plants, berries and nuts. Also found on birdtables and feeders in town and village gardens.They nest in bushes made of grass and twigs lined with finer stems, hair and feathers. The female lays 4-6 eggs in 1 or 2 broods from April to July. They can live for up to 3 years.

Seen all year round, and found in open deciduous woodland, parks, large gardens, orchards, busy habitats, hedgerows, farmland, coastal cliffs with good coverage of vegetation. Once in decline in the 1970s and 1980s, but increased quite substantially in the 1990s, it is a common and widespread species, and has an RSPB green status.

Packed Up And Ready To Go …

… to become an adult.

This is the brightly coloured pupa casing of the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis). I found it glued to the underneath of a fern in my back garden. Notice the black and white remains of shed spiky larval skin at the base of the pupa.

2-spot Ladybird

Adalia bipunctata

This can be quite a variable ladybird, with the typical form having 2 black spots on bright red elytra, as in the above photograph. Other forms have black elytra with 2, 4 or 6 red spots. They are fairly small, growing up to 6mm long.

It is a very fierce predator of aphids.

Found all year round, and in the winter months it maybe found hibernating in sheltered crevices of bark or in outbuildings like garden sheds. It is most active March to November. Seen in most habitats, including hedgerows and gardens. An abundant and widespread species throughout Great Britain.

Photograph taken May 2014, rear garden, Staffordshire.

10-spot Ladybird

Adalia decempunctata

I discovered the typical form (seen above and directly below) of this species of ladybird on my crab apple tree about two years ago. This morning I discovered  f. decempustulatus on the same tree, which has a chequered look about it. No doubt it has been feasting on the aphids clustered on the shoots.

This is the most variable of Great Britain’s ladybirds in terms of colour pattern, and it does not always have 10 spots. In its typical form it can be yellow, orange or red in overall colour, but there are also chequered forms and melanic forms with even more colour variations. It can have 0-15 black or dark brown spots. The pronotum is white with 5 dark spots, which may be fused. The legs are brown. Length 3.5 to 4.5mm.

They feed on aphids, and are seen March to October. Found in a variety of habitats, but mainly in hedgerows, deciduous woodland, parks and gardens. Common and widespread throughout Britain.

Photographs taken May 2014 and July 2016, on crab apple, rear garden, Staffordshire.


A Walk of Discovery

I am lucky enough to live right on the edge of green belt land, and this morning I ventured out amongst the trees and the grass before the rains came again. These are some of the wonderful and beautiful insects I came across in the English jungle. I have yet to identify them all.

Photographs taken June 2016, local walk, Staffordshire.

Harlequin Ladybird

Harmonia axyridis f. spectablis

It is not until you get up close and personal with this insect that you realise these beautifully bright and colourful beetles look so ferocious! This is quite a large and variable species of ladybird that come in three forms, one of them being this one, f. spectablis. It it usually black with four red-orange spots, although, to confuse matters further, there can be variations on these forms.  Length 7 to 8mm.

They have a voracious appetite and consume large quantities of aphids in both larval and adult forms. Unfortunately they have a tendency to eat other, native ladybirds which pose a serious threat to all of Britain’s Coccinellidae. They also feed on moth and butterfly caterpillars, scale insects and pollen. The spread of this species is being closely monitored.

It can be seen all year round, hibernating in the winter months in tree hollows, sheds, barns, and even houses. Found in many habitats, including hedgerows, woodland verges, grasslands, roadside verges, parks and gardens. Their host plants are various, but particularly lime and sycamore. The Harlequin arrived in Britain in 2004, and has become particularly invasive, often to the detriment of local species. It has spread from the south through the Midlands.

Photographs taken June 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire.