14 Spot Ladybird

The semi-enclosed garden area behind Olympic Park in Charlton Down, where Buddleias growing along the side of the path and clumps of lavender and rosemary attract so many bees and butterflies, has a new attraction for wildlife. A group of small hazel bushes are providing not only a surprising number of nuts but also resting places and food for lots of insects. It is always worth a look to see what is on the leaves – like this geometrically patterned yellow and black 14 Spot ladybird (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata).

Ladybird Life Stages

The leaves on the lime trees in the village are providing a natural platform on which red and black ladybird larvae can pupate and eventually hatch out. Here are some pictures from the other day (22 September 2021) showing the various life stages. I think the final-stage yellow and black winged adult may have recently emerged from one of the pupae (or are they late-stage instars?). There are still lots of these intriguing small creatures around if you want to look for yourself. Try the leaves on the lime trees that border the tarmacked road between Olympic Park playing field and the cricket pitch.

I think these bugs may be Harlequin ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis) which are an invasive species that entered the UK in 2004 and have rapidly become widespread. They are considered to be a great pest because they eat all sorts of other native insects and do not restrict themselves to feeding on aphids like our local ladybirds.