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Amazing what you don't know!


I know that with the pandemic we have all had more time to take life slowly and protect ourselves and those we love. This week I was just prowling about up on the field, mainly bemoaning the fact that whatever weeds I transplant out of my garden onto the field as hedge bottom undergrowth, is immediately the favourite food of the rabbits that live or visit! I was studying the Oaks and other trees and shrubs to see if there were any caterpillars, probably too hot for them as an afterthought!
What I did find was something I hadn’t seen before and had to look up. Just goes to prove that there is always something else to learn.

It is apparently a 14 spot Ladybird (Propylea quatuordecimpunctata) which is also apparently common, at least in the lower part of the United Kingdom.

Info here:

and also a whole load more here if you can put up with allowing cookies all the time!

This cream one is a bit weird as the ‘spots’ are more rectangles and even the websites don’t tell you if it’s cream with black spots or vice-versa!
Possibly above the Ladybird is the larvae of these, must admit I never noticed that until I enlarged the photo!
This next one is the common seven-spot, though it’s not very bright red, perhaps it’s been sun-bathing too much!

These two are good guys, it’s the invader, the Harlequin that is the bad guy – it eats our native ones as well as butterfly eggs. Still not sure if I could dispose of it – if you know what I mean!

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That's interesting, I've never seen one of those before. In fact even the common red Ladybirds have become quite rare in these parts over the years.

27 Jun, 2020


Good to see a ladybird. They seem to be very absent this year! Are their numbers in decline?? I really hope not and keep hoping they will turn up in the garden.

28 Jun, 2020


That's strange because I'm fiding them, and their babies, just about everywhere at the moment. I wondered if it was the planes, or lack of them I should say, that has brought so many out this year.

28 Jun, 2020


We usually have loads, but as you say Hywel and Numbers they do seem to be a bit evasive this year. Perhaps it's because of the weather, too hot to have an invasion of green or blackfly, so they are not about, or perhaps they just hide from the heat.
It's an interesting thought Thorney that the lack of planes has affected them. With apologies to those of you who take holidays abroad, it would be nice if there were less planes and the skies were dominated by the birds!

28 Jun, 2020


I say that because here at Heathrow although some planes are still flying it's been so quiet this last three months it's eerie. I've lived here 27 years and it just feels strange how you can here things you never heard before.

28 Jun, 2020


I've read up on them a lot, studied photographs but still unsure about the differences, I remember reading an article a few years back whereby it asked not to destroy any as we might kill the wrong ones, I saw quite a lot here in early spring but they all seem to have disappeared again, I was careful and left the old stems and fallen leaves around my plants for them but it hasn't made any difference, saying that I haven't had any greenfly on my roses for them to eat, bound to make a difference isn't it...
For the first time in donkeys years I have an invasion of blackfly on my dahlias.....

29 Jun, 2020


Thanks for sharing, really interesting blog.

29 Jun, 2020


I have the same trouble with bees Lincs! They never sit still long enough for me to study if they have a white, cream or tawny bottom, whether their antennae are short or their legs hairy. All very well for these people to show you a photo of a well behaved bee, but just as you take your eye off the one you were trying to identify to check the chart - it's gone!
As for the Ladybirds they vary so much in spots that unless I saw the Harlequin with a poised knife and fork over a seven spot Ladybird, I probably wouldn't know one.
So far (touch wood) I haven't had any of either black or green fly, though there were blackfly on some self-sown broad beans that arrived from the field next door, that were growing there last year. Now how do broad bean seed, which are large and bulky, get from the field to my garden? Did the crows pick them up and then drop them, or were the tractors chucking so much garbage into the air when they harvested them that they arrived that way? They might have been field beans for animal feed, but the few in my garden this year tasted fine!

Thanks Kate, like the saying goes "little things please little minds", we are easily amused in the countryside!

29 Jun, 2020


We have had plagues of the Harlequins in recent years...they congregate in great numbers to over-winter in sheds, barns and even in our houses, but, come to think of it I've seen very few this summer. (so far!)It's interesting how clean our air seems without it being stirred up by air traffic. (have you seen the pictures of Mumbai's "invasion" of flamingoes?) have more aphids and ants this year... along with snakes on my counter top! It's become a year of oddities; but... and it's a big BUT.. we have survived the pandemic so far and June has been a lovely month.

30 Jun, 2020


if your ladybird has yellow feet it is the harlequin. to be honest I do squish them. I did a blog last year about how to spot them.
there are 47 uk species of lady bird according to my daughters definitive id guide.

1 Jul, 2020


I never think of where they over-winter Lori, I shall be looking a bit closer in all the sheds and barn. We usually get butterflies over-wintering in various sheds, sadly not all make it as I find just the wings on the floor. Due to the cobwebs about in the shed I have always thought that it wasn't the bats that picked them off, but how do mice (the other culprits) get up to the roof edges? I had a look at the Flamingos in Mumbai, they are amazing, nature is certainly the winner in this pandemic and makes you ashamed of what humanity has done to the natural world. Listening to the news you can't believe that people are scrambling to go away on holiday, cooped up in re-cycled air planes, hordes of strangers from who knows where. I know we have to get back to the new normal, but surely people take their health more seriously. I think the age group 20-55 have more or less been told that they are immune and so think they can do as they like! I would be more confident if they knew whether you were immune if you had a mild dose! Being in the upper 'vulnerable' age group I am still taking great care. We have relatives in Canada who were planning on a visit to the UK for a family Christening in April, which of course didn't happen.

2 Jul, 2020


I shall have to look up your blog Seaburn about the Harlequins and it's amazing how many species there are in the UK. All these busy little lives going on under our noses that our recent generations know nothing about, now that we are divorced from working on the land. I bet our ancestors knew them all.

2 Jul, 2020

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