Among the best-known and most well-loved beetles, ladybirds are easy to recognise. The most familiar have bright red elytra (wing cases) with black spots, while others are black and yellow, white and brown, or even striped.
The commonest species are the two-spot and larger seven-spot ladybirds, although about 40 others can also be found in the British Isles.
Ladybirds are brightly coloured, warning predators of their bitter taste, which helps survival. They are also able to exude a pungent fluid to ward off ants, birds and people.
During the winter adults hibernate in cracks, crevices and leaf litter and emerge in April to find a mate. Females lay eggs that hatch after about four days, depending on the temperature.
The steely-blue larvae with creamy-yellow spots do not resemble the adults. They eat aphids voraciously. After several moults over the course of a few months, they emerge as adults to feed for a few weeks before seeking a sheltered spot to hibernate.
What they eat:
Adults and larvae feed on aphids and small insects.
- Two-spot ladybird: up to 5 mm long Seven-spot ladybird: up to 8 mm long