Probably the most popular and well known of all beetles, the ladybird – or ladybug.
When we were little children our father made us ladybird cages – made from slices of wine cork for the top and bottom, and sewing pins used for the bars. We were of course delighted with them. Mum would always frown and tell us to put the poor ladybirds back in the garden though 😀
Along with the earthworm (who aireates the soil), they are the gardener’s friend as they eat ‘plant pests’ such as the greenfly. Their scientific name is Coccinellids; lesser known names include: Ladyclock, Lady Cow and Lady Fly. They come in yellow, orange, red with black spots on their wing parts, have black legs and a head with antennae. Most people don’t realise that they also come in other colours, such as black, grey and brown. Ladybirds are tiny, rounded, domed insects from 1 mm to 10 mm, and as is with all beetles, they have 3 body parts. There are around 5,000 species of Coccinellids. They live for 1 to 2 years.
For protection, the ladybird is brightly coloured; they also spray a toxin to ward off predators.
Fairly recently there has been an invasion of the ladybird called Harlequin (Harmonia Axyridis) in the UK; these are pests since they destroy habitat and kill our native ladybirds, butterflies and lacewings. Although a pest – and indeed a problem years ago in the States – Harlequins are still being sold as a *form of pest control in North America and Continental Europe. Originating from Asia, they had been purposefully introduced to those countries for that reason.
Peter Brown explains how to spot an alien ladybird, watch this short video * HERE *
The adult H. axyridis is about 7mm long, slightly larger than the seven-spot ladybird native to the UK. It comes in a range of colours and patterns. ~ BBC News
Help in the fight against the Harlequin (UK), click * HERE *
In some cultures ladybirds are considered lucky (getting married; good weather; fortune). I wonder if they inspired the Beetle car? They certainly winged their way to a famous publisher.
* in 2008. Still lawful today?
Copyright Stephanie Faith 2010
Photograph / picture belong to those as mentioned.