insects

What’s have we here?

Perfect timing as the green fly appear an odd looking ladybird on the roses.

I go and look him up — how do you know he is male? I hear you ask.

This is how.

But his gender would not be given away by his colouring. This is one of the most variably marked species of ladybird — the harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis — it has many forms. The female (I hope I am not making a false assumption here) is f. succinea, orange or red with 20-22 black spots and a white pronotium, the plate over the thorax, with a black M on it — you can see that quite clearly. The male in f. spectabilis, black with four red spots and again 2 big white splodges on his otherwise black pronotium. There are completely red ones and black ones and all sorts of variations. The first thing you notice is that they are bigger than our native species.

And they are bad news for native species as they are very successful — not surprising. These have appeared first and, as you can see, are getting on with the job — very active and difficult to photograph as they would not stand still!

Native to eastern Asia they are voracious predators and were evidently introduced to control aphids on commercial crops here in Britain, Europe and also North America .

A threat to diversity but good news for the roses.

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