Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Focusing on the familiar IV: ladybirds Part 3

After a short holiday (hence the gap between posts), I'm back and thought I would celebrate the sunshine with another in my occasional series about more familiar species. I've looked at several species of ladybird already, but there are others that you are likely to encounter and today I want to move on from the red-and-black species to look at the Orange Ladybird (Halyzia 16-guttata or more correctly sedecimguttata).

Orange Ladybird, Halyzia sedecimguttata
This is an attractive species, 4.5 - 6mm long with 12-16 (usually 16) pale spots on an orange background. The elytra (wing cases) have a translucent edge - you can see the legs through it - as does the pronotum which leaves the eyes visible from above. It's usually a woodland species, but is becoming more common on trees and shrubs in urban areas, especially where there is ivy - this one was brought indoors by accident on bramble destined to be stick-insect food and was collected from beneath scots pine and ivy. Sycamore and ash are generally considered the main hosts, but hawthorn is now also used widely by adults and larvae, with records also coming from dogwood, lime, hazel, sallow, birch, field maple and occasionally conifers. It feeds on mildew rather than the plants themselves, and hibernates in leaf litter or sheltered parts of trees. Being mildew-feeders, they breed in June & July, later than other (i.e. aphid-feeding) ladybirds as they have to wait for sufficient mildew to develop in order to feed their larvae. Though more common in the south, they can be found throughout the UK, as far north as the Orkneys.

Further reading

Majerus, M. & Kearns, P. (1989). Ladybirds. Richmond, Slough. An excellent little book with detailed keys to species, including the 'micros' - a new edition is being prepared.
Majerus, M., Roy, H., Brown, P. & Ware, R. (2006). Guide to Ladybirds of the British Isles. FSC, Preston Montford. A fold-out laminated sheet perfect for beginners.
Roy, H., Brown, P., Frost, R. & Poland, R. (2011). Ladybirds (Coccinellidae) of Britain and Ireland. FSC, Shrewsbury. Details of all species including maps, identification features, ecology and so on.

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