Thursday 3 May 2012, 10:23
Ladybirds are becoming much more active now as the weather warms up and their favourite food source - aphids become more widely available (but hopefully not on my vegetable patch).
May is the main breeding season for ladybirds so you can expect to see a lot more of our 51 resident species (only 29 of these are recognisably ladybirds) out and about over the next month.
Among our resident species you'll also spot the increasingly common, invasive harlequin ladybird which is being carefully monitored.
Confusingly it comes in many colours, many of which resemble our native ladybirds making it difficult to distinguish.
Introduced to north America and mainland Europe as a biological control for aphids, their ferocious appetite has led to the decline of our native species.
Not only do they eat aphids, they will also eat ladybird larvae and other insect larva such as butterfly eggs, caterpillars and lacewing larvae and at least 1000 British insects are now at risk.
First spotted in the south east of England in 2004 they have expanded rapidly, north and west.
Harlequin ladybird in Llangollen by Keith Evans
Here are a few simple ways to distinguish harlequin ladybirds from resident species from the Harlequin Ladybird Survey website:
A recent study led by Dr Helen Roy from the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Tim Adriaens from the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) in Belgium has found that seven resident species are at risk.
The seven species in decline are the 2-spot, 10-spot, cream-spot, pine, orange, 14-spot and 22-spot ladybirds.
Find out more about Harlequin ladybirds on BBC Nature.
Join the discussion...
Thursday 3 May 2012, 08:25
Thursday 3 May 2012, 09:30