Ladybird, Ladybird

ladybird on echeveria flower in my garden I’ve been seeing so many ladybirds (Coccinellidae) in my garden in the past few weeks. Every one is a different shade of orange and has a different number, pattern and shape of black spots.

The street tree on my front verge (planted and maintained by the local council) was recently pruned because it grows under power lines. The council workers shred and take away lots of what’s pruned, but there’s always many smaller cuttings that litter my verge and garden and I put them in my compost bin. When I was doing this I noticed numerous ladybirds on the cuttings and I wondered if they like this particular tree.

I found another ladybird sitting on my fence on top of a cocoon. I know that cocoons usually come between the juvenile and adult stage in an insect’s development, but for some reason I thought she was laying eggs that were then wrapped in the cocoon. I realised the error in my thinking after investigating ladybird reproduction. They lay yellow eggs in sheltered places [1], often near aphids to provide food for the hatchlings, and like many insects the larvae look completely different to the adults [2]. The fence is not sheltered and there are certainly no aphids on it. Then I remembered a small wasp was hovering near the ladybird when I first saw it. The wasp was probably hoping to join in the meal.

common spotted ladybird attacking a cocoon common spotted ladybird larva on a banksia leaf

There are over 300 species of ladybird in Australia and not all of them are carnivorous. In the UK they hibernate in winter [1], but in Australia

ladybirds can be found all year round, but are particularly numerous in early spring, when the warming weather makes them more active. [2]

transverse ladybird on an outer wall of my house There are four species that are widespread across Australia, but only three are found in WA. The transverse ladybird (Coccinella transversalis), common spotted ladybird (Harmonia conformis), and variable ladybird (Coelophora inaequalis). I’ve seen the first two in my garden.

Ladybirds need nectar and pollen sources to lay their eggs [2] and the street tree is flowering, so the warm weather and abundant nectar and pollen is the reason for the profusion of ladybirds.

=^.^=

References

  1. Mabbott, Peter (2005) Reproduction and Life History of Ladybirds.
  2. Thomas, Abbie (2002) Killer Ladybirds in The Scribbly Gum. ABC Science.
  3. Chew, Peter (2005) Ladybird beetles (Family Coccinellidae) in Brisbane, Queensland.
  4. CSIRO (2007) Look inside the secret world of the ladybird beetle (vodcast).
  5. Ślipiński, Adam (2007) Australian Ladybird Beetles: their biology and classification. Canberra: Dept. of the Environment and Water Resources.

4 thoughts on “Ladybird, Ladybird

  1. I thought the insect hovering near the common spotted ladybird attacking a cocoon (above) was some kind of wasp, because of the yellow and black stripes. But it was a hover-fly. They eat aphids, so maybe it was following the ladybird hoping to find something tasty.

  2. I live in a high-rise and so, while I do have a good view, I cannot have a garden. I have aphids on my potted parsley and I have been walking around public gardens looking for a few ladybirds. Unfortunately I fear local councils must use some nasty chemicals to get rid of their aphids and so I have been unable to find any. :(

    Still, my hoverfly may help. Oh – and I am envious of that top ladybird photo. It is really good.

  3. I was pretty happy with the photo of the lady bird on the flower. I did have to take about 50 photos before I got a good one, but if you’re happy to sit there all day, it happens in the end :)
    I wouldn’t have been able to take a photo of a hover fly, they move way too fast for me.

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