Harlequin Ladybirds

Anyone good at identifying ladybirds?

I’ve sent this  photo off to the Harlequin survey site, hoping they’ll identify it for us.

We have a dramatic influx of ladybirds on the cardoons. They are very busy, setting up home, reproducing, laying eggs, eating, generally marching about, arguing with the aphids and rarely stay still long enough for the man with the macro lens to get a clear shot let alone measure them!   We think they could be Harlequins but only read up about ladybirds and their lifecycle yesterday. We are watching out for the larvae to hatch now….

They arrived in Britain in 2004 and are marching westwards, no ordinary ladybird, bigger and meaner than our native species.  I usually pay more attention to birds, like the collared doves who are so successful here, and the rose-ringed parrakeets and the little egrets who now inhabit parks and wetlands respectively.  But not usually my garden!  The world is in flux constantly and the insect world is no exception….

So the question is, should I be grateful that in three days time their larvae will hatch and proceed to devour all aphids, butterfly eggs and everything else that stands in their path, or should I remove their eggs from the leaves and use dilute soap to wash away the aphids?

It’s National Insect Week next week apparently, so I’d love to hear what’s crawling and buzzing around where you live!

Here are two more of Brian’s wonderful pics…any experts out there want to have a go at identifying them for us? (Contact details for him here if you want to use one of his images)

Brian's battle picture

The aphids like the cardoons, and the ladybirds like the....

17 thoughts on “Harlequin Ladybirds

  1. Blue

    Those photos are amazing!
    The battle photo is worthy of a prize (and I mean that!)

    As you are interested in bugs (and I would leave those harlequins chomp merrily on the aphids if it were my decision) do you or Brian or your blog friends know what this strange visitor to my garden might be? Found two of them on Sunday canoodling in the same rose …. ah, bless (or maybe not, as the case may be). The last time I discovered something I hadn’t seen before, it turned out they were Japanese beetles (zillions of them) and they did a real hatchet job on the grass on an impressive scale ….

    Here goes, I hope this works: Blue’s photo What's this then?

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Blue, I have only just become a teeny bit interested in bugs. That is an amazing shot and I have no idea AT ALL what it is! Looks a bit like a bee with the furry bits….

    2. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Oh Yes! Look ! Found it in our Collins guide to British Wildlife!
      It’s a Bee Beetle! Trichius fasciatus Length 14 mm
      ‘An extremely hairy beetle with wasp or bee like back, orange/yellow markings on elytra, throax and abdomen buffish brown. Adults seen June to Sept visiting flowers,thistles and thymes. Mostly associated in upland areas, seldom common, occur in England in North Wales, Northern England and Scotland..

  2. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Are they regarded as a pest, Jo? Otherwise I’d be inclined to leave ladybirds, just because they’re supposed to be good in the garden. Having said that, if they’re wiping out the natural populations, then that is a dilemma…

    Great photos – Brian’s macro photos are stunning as always!

  3. Annalisa

    It’s a harlequin. We are plagued by them here in East Anglia. The first year we had a huge influx in October (when they find places to hibernate). We killed them I’m afraid, we must have had about 30,000 (and no I’m not exaggerating!) because they bunched up in the folds of the curtains and in the corners of windows.

    If they stay outside I don’t touch them, personally. But if they start coming into the house I know that a few will mean many, many more as they leave pheremone (sp, and sorry to lazy to look it up as am tired!) trails to say “come over!” If you try to squash them they leave something called orange reflex which stains. They can also bite apparently…

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Oh Celia, look what Annalisa has to say on the subject. Doesn’t sound too good. Curtains full of them. Presumably in October is the flash point if that is when they are looking to hibernate after a busy summer of reproducing and eating their way through the native bugs.

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          Definitely! :) I am going to adopt a wait and see approach to the spotty ones. They may run out of food here and go elsewhere long before the urge to climb inside the soft furnishings. Saw four foxes the other evening in my road….

  4. lynne

    I saw the header and opened this up expecting cakes in the shape of ladybirds….I was expecting some exotic red and black icing and then there was the real thing !!!!!!!!!!

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Sorry Lynne, did you see Joe’s turtle though? On Dan’s forum, that’s made out of bread! He made it with his niece.
      Isn’t it fabulous! He’s a very clever baker :)

      Joe’s Turtle Bread can be seen on Dan’s forum here

  5. in a welsh garden

    I have just checked our ‘ladybird tree’ where we have lots of pupae biding time…I am awiting (with some trepidation)to see if they turn out to be the dreaded H’s : (

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi In a welsh garden! :)

      They are gathering in numbers today. Some all red ones, more of the black ones with four spots, lots of others with many spots seem to be happy to interbreed…. It’s a bit like the Birds here…..
      I haven’t seen any larvae yet. Oh and I found a green ladybird type beetle tucked in there with the others as well.

  6. Tutak

    It’s all getting too much; next thing I’ll open this blog thinking I’m going to get some nice bread tips and find a bloody great spider staring at me. Health warning please, the bee beetle thing, EEEEK…
    Okay enough of the insectophobic ranting. Advice needed: I have a surfeit of oregano sprawling in my mini veg patch. Suggestions? And given that I have eight heads of wheat (thanks to my bird feeder seed dropping onto jasminoides tub on the roof terrace) and five cherries on my patio cherry tree which look they might ripen and not shrivel up and die like the others, do you think I have enough to make a cherry pie for a Borrower?

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Tutak dear, I promise never to post spider pictures and I will try to limit the insect pictures to cuddly ones associated with childrens’ books, OK?

      If you have a Borrower living in your house I am sure they would adore a fine piece of miniature pie. Abby has sent me her best pizza crust recipe and it should be on its way to you now :)

  7. Choclette

    My understanding of Harlequins, was that they were here to stay so no point trying to get rid of them. We saw one on the train the other day – hitched a ride from London?

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      The research I have seen says at the moment they are just monitoring their spread and trying to gather observations as to whether there are any natural mechanisms that limit their numbers. The problem comes
      when they want to hibernate in thousands inside your house. Then there might be a conflict of interests. Trains, planes, cars on ferries, there are a lot of ways for wild life to travel these days, aren’t there?

      Thanks for all your lovely comments Choclette! I do appreciate them!

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