With the Pure Historical past Society of Northumbria’s improbable North East Ladybird Spot launching this week, most of this weekend has been spent trying to find these vibrant bugs at varied websites throughout Tyneside. A January passtime I might by no means have thought-about a couple of quick years in the past that now, figuring out the place to look, is changing into considerably of an obsession.
Orange Ladybirds (Halyzia sedecimguttata) have confirmed extremely quite a few this winter and, whereas visiting Preston Cemetery in Tynemouth, I used to be stunned to stumble fairly actually lots of of those bugs dotted throughout the positioning’s many aged gravestones. The bulk being present in wooded areas the place headstones are situated within the shade of broadleaf timber.
Whereas I can rely on one hand the variety of occasions I’ve noticed this species in Summer time, Winter actually does look like the prime time to search for these putting critters earlier than they return to the tree tops come Spring.
Whereas Orange Ladybirds had been quite a few this weekend, Harlequin Ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis) had been much more so, with big numbers discovered within the metropolis at Jesmond, Wallsend and Heaton. Few had been to be seen at Tynemouth, oddly sufficient, however a handful had been noticed secreted amid the ranks of the plentiful Orange Ladybirds in what can solely be described as an entire reversal of my observations in Newcastle. Right here, these giant invaders outnumber every little thing else ten to at least one.
By no means current in nice numbers and at all times considerably of a ache to seek out, it was pleasantly shocking to seek out Cream-Spot Ladybirds (Calvia quatuordecimguttata) at a couple of native websites this weekend. Singles had been discovered at Tynemouth and Wallsend, although the best numbers by far had been seen in Jesmond Previous Cemetery. A trusty web site for a fantastic vary of ladybirds!
I do discover it barely odd how the numbers of every species of ladybird differ between websites with no apparent distinction in habitat…
2-Spot Ladybirds (Adalia bipunctata) appear to differ in quantity day by day, although the place they’re vanishing to within the depths of winter I’m not too positive. Whereas final week ten or so could possibly be present in Jesmond Previous Cemetery, this week, solely a single ladybird could possibly be seen. Equally, none had been situated in any respect at any of the opposite websites visited. This species is struggling a notable decline within the UK thanks in a big half to the arrival of the Harlequin and evidently right here too, they’re rising scarcer.
Ever dependable, Jesmond additionally yielded a variety of pretty Pine Ladybirds (Exochomus quadripustulatus), largely snoozing on gravestones. Small, black and pretty inconspicuous, I think I walked previous a fantastic many of those earlier than recognizing the one pictured beneath.
One other species that has confirmed to be something however dependable this winter is the 10-Spot Ladybird (Adalia decempunctata), with solely a single particular person noticed throughout this weekend’s meanderings, as soon as once more in Jesmond.
Imagine it or not, it took till the top of March 2021 to come across my first 7-Spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) of the 12 months. Fortunately, this 12 months, a look at some immature Sitka Spruce and tatty Gorse at Gosforth Nature Reserve helped spare me the embarrassment this time round, with six discovered tucked up on the finish of branches.
Lastly, we come to the undisputed spotlight of the weekend and an opportunity encounter with a Water Ladybird (Anistosticta novemdecimpunctata) on the similar web site, this one discovered nestled throughout the decaying stem of a Bulrush. An actual favorite of mine, I anticipated to attend till at the least Might earlier than taking place throughout this species which stays scarce, or at the least under-recorded, in my nook of the nation.
Impressed by these sharing their finds underneath #LadybirdYearList on Twitter, this 12 months I’ll be trying to see as many of those fabulous bugs as attainable throughout the North East. Whereas we’re not precisely spoiled for alternative up right here, missing lots of the inconspicuous ladybirds discovered within the South and few of the bigger species too, I think 12-15 is likely to be attainable with somewhat effort.
Final 12 months supplied my first encounter with Eyed, Kidney-Spot and 24-Spot Ladybirds and this 12 months, hopefully, I’ll catch-up with Striped, Larch or Hieroglyphic – species I’m but to see anyplace within the UK.