The scientist J.B.S. Haldane, when asked what his studies revealed about ‘the Creator’, is alleged to have said that “He has an inordinate fondness for beetles”. It may be apocryphal (I don’t know I wasn’t there of course) but this one statement highlights the fact that beetles are everywhere and come in so many different sizes and colours (and in so many different habitats) that they represent around 40% of all insects and are the largest insect group with around 350,000+ species so far identified (apparently 70–95% of all beetle species, depending on the estimate, remain undescribed though,so there really are quite a lot of them). Beetles include the dark things that scuttle across the floor and dive into tiny cracks in the living-room wall, weevils, fireflies, click beetles, rove beetles, flower beetles, chafers, jewel beetles, and longhorns…and ladybirds.
Which makes identifying them all a little tough.
Which is possibly a problem, as the recorder in me wants to know what I’m seeing down to the specific level, the realist in me knows that’s not possible – should I therefore not attempt to ‘name’ these things or not? Where it’s obvious (or reasonably obvious) I think I’ll have a go, where it’s impossible I won’t and when I get it wrong and some kind soul tells me so I’ll revise history and go back and edit…
Anyway, I’m sure I’m right with the following four ladybirds, all of which, with the exception of the Orange Ladybird which is an older photo, I’ve found on the Great Chalfield estate in recent weeks. All were new for me (and to be honest and I’m not even sure I knew they existed at all in at least three cases):
Four Ladybirds (Coccinellidae) in descending order of size from ‘pretty much standard’ to ‘Blimey, that’s small!’:
Orange Ladybird Halyzia 16-guttata. Photographed June 2010 in a hawthorn hedge.
- 4.5 – 6mm. Considered an indicator of ancient woodland until 1987. Has become widespread since it became common on sycamore trees. Recently has also moved onto ash trees and appears to be increasing in abundance. It is attracted to light and is often found in moth-traps. Rarely breeds before mid-June. (http://www.ladybird-survey.org/species_desc.aspx?species=6455%2060301)
14-spot Ladybird Propylea 14-punctata. Photographed May 2012, quite common in woodland at Great Chalfield.
- 3.5 – 4.5mm. Black spots often merge as in this individual. Widespread throughout England and considered a generalist (http://www.ladybird-survey.org/species_desc.aspx?species=6455%2059801)
22-spot Ladybird Psyllobora 22-punctata. Photographed May 2012, status unknown yet.
- 3 – 4mm. Spots never merge. The larva feed on Hogweed which grows in profusion here so this widespread species should be found in good numbers on the estate – though they are quite small so could go unnoticed (http://www.ladybird-survey.org/species_desc.aspx?species=6455+60501)
24-spot Ladybird Subcoccinella 24-punctata. Photographed May 2012, found on house wall by front door.
- 3 – 4mm. Typically a grassland species and usually found close to the ground among long grasses – why it was on my wall in the garden I don’t know, but this is a VERY small ladybird indeed and I may never actually find another one… (http://www.ladybird-survey.org/species_desc.aspx?species=6455%2057801)
Check out the Ladybird Survey at http://www.ladybird-survey.org/default.aspx.
All photographs copyright Charlie Moores/Talking Naturally. Similarly the identifications are (mostly) my own – if you see any errors I’d be very grateful to know. Thanks.