Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pine Plantation Ladybirds







I came across these two ladybird species on the edge of a Scots pine plantation in Weardale this afternoon, where they sunning themselves on fence posts. The top pair of pictures shows an eyed ladybird Anatis ocellata and the lower pair shows the striped ladybird Myzia oblongoguttata. Both tend to be restricted to conifer plantations, where they feed on the aphids that often infest young pine shoots. The fortunes of ladybirds have waned in recent years but in 2009 I have seen more species and more individuals than for the last two wet summers. Thanks to the dedication of the late Mike Majerus, Professor of Evolution at Cambridge University , who enthused the public and particularly children about identifying and recording these useful beetles, we now have a much better understanding of ladybird distribution, which will help in monitoring the impact of climate change and threats from the introduced, predatory harlequin ladybird. Mike Majerus, who wrote a New Naturalist volume on ladybirds sadly died earlier this year at the age of only 54. You can read about him at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/professor-michael-majerus-geneticist-who-defended-darwin-in-the-battle-against-creationism-1608181.html
You can find out more about helping with the Ladybird Survey, and download a photographic ID chart, at http://www.ladybird-survey.org/

11 comments:

  1. Great post & great photos, Phil.

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  2. Great photos of a couple of unusual, to me anyway, ladybirds as I only see 7 spots round here.

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  3. Thanks for both the illustrations and the info. Let me know before you venture out next and I will time my foray with yours; not seen the sun for a week!

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  4. I never realised just how many different Ladybirds we have in this country. They're two I've never seen before.
    Great post Phil, and great shots too.

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  5. Two beautiful, tiny, creatures, Phil. Like Keith, I hadn't realised there were so many variations of ladybird.

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  6. Thanks Dean, the eyed ladybirds are quite common around here

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  7. Hi John, we've got mostly seven-spots in our garden, with just a few two-spots, which don't seem to be as common as they used to be.

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  8. Hi Adrian, we've had to dodge the showers here too...

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  9. Hi Keith, We've had some yellow and back-sotted ladybirds in our garden on the blackcurrant bushes this year, but otherwise we mostly get the seven-spot variety

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  10. Hi Emma, there's also a lot of variation within species, including some forms where the colour pattern is reversed - red spots on black wing cases

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  11. Great looking Blog,enjoyed every Image.
    Thanks.
    John.

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