Whilst out exploring our town, as well as looking up to spot passing birds, I am also looking down to spot passing invertebrates, in fact I am often looking anyway but where I am walking! In the long grass and patches of wild flowers, little ruby red specks catch my eye. They are our most familiar ladybird, the 7-spot. They are occasionally yellow but always have 7 black spots, with 3 on each wing case and 1 at the back sitting across the two wings. Amazingly the 7-spot ladybird is a migratory species: large numbers fly in from the continent every spring, boosting our native population and to feed on the glut of aphids appearing everywhere at this time of year. An introduced alien species of ladybird, the harlequin is bad news for a native ladybirds, as well as munching on aphids they also eat the larva of other ladybirds, including the 7-spot. The harlequins will also eat and outcompete the adult 2-spot ladybirds.
By River Six