Ladybird pupae

by Pippa Greenwood

There currently appears to be the largest quantity of ladybird pupae I've ever seen in my garden. I'm not sure whether they are pupae of the standard UK ladybirds or the notorious harlequin...

Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) pupa. Image copyright Richard JonesThere currently appears to be the largest quantity of ladybird pupae I've ever seen in my garden. I'm not sure whether they are pupae of the standard UK ladybirds or the notorious harlequin, but they are here in force. Just the other day a friend drove over to see me because he'd seen these strange, rather-more-yellow-than-usual pupae, latched firmly on to garden plants and nettles.

Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) larva (left) and pupa. Image copyright Richard JonesThe ladybird has got to be the most widely identifiable insect in our gardens. Most people can recognise a ladybird, but the larvae, with their larger than expected size and strange almost caterpillar-like scuttling habit, are more likely to be incorrectly identified. All too often people tell me they have squashed them, believing them to be garden pests, when in fact they are the gardeners' friend, as both the larvae and the adult eat aphids. But the immobile, almost tick-like pupae, with no legs or head end visible, often go un-noticed. Even if they are noticed, they often escape recognition.

Larva of the 2-spot ladybird (Adalia bipunctata). Image copyright Richard JonesBut this year it seems just about everyone has masses of them. On a walk the other day the nettles were thick with them. Are they everywhere or just in Hampshire? I've been fascinated by ladybirds since I was a kid, but if these masses of pupae are indeed the harlequins then it looks as if the outbreak described  last year really will become a reality in my garden this year. Meanwhile, I await the hatching with more than a little interest!

UPDATE: Our wildlife blogger Richard Jones has kindly supplied some images of ladybird larvae and pupae, which have now been added to Pippa's blog. These are, starting from the top:

1. Pupa of the harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis.

2. Larva and pupa of the harlequin ladybird. Both larvae and pupa are very much brighter and larger than other UK species.

3. Larva of the 2-spot ladybird, Adalia bipunctata (the larva of the 7-spot ladybird is very similar, grey with orange bobbles, but with a slightly different arrangement).

Elsewhere on the web:

An image of a harlequin ladybird pupa.

A forum discussion about ladybird pupae.

An image gallery featuring a harlequin ladybird pupae.

A gallery of ladybird images, including an image of a pupa.

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Talkback: Ladybird pupae
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Gardeners' World Web User 23/07/2009 at 17:01

It would be really helpful if you could show a picture of the ladybird larvae, as I also may have squashed them.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/07/2009 at 17:06

I haven't seen a single ladybird in my garden this year and neither, having asked on TMF wildlife and gardening threads, have most other people in all parts of the country.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/07/2009 at 17:19

Ok Pippa what does it look like please?

Gardeners' World Web User 23/07/2009 at 17:24

Exactly! I don't know what they look like either. Pictures please!

Gardeners' World Web User 23/07/2009 at 17:29

Just go to Google images ladybird larvae to see them, lots of different colours

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