Ladybird Survey

Ladybird Survey

The Irish Wildlife Trust's nationwide Ladybird Survey ran in partnership with National Museums Northern Ireland and biology.ie.  The survey aimed to record the distribution of ladybirds in Ireland as there was a huge gap in our knowledge regarding the current distribution of ladybirds and how these were potentially affected by the arrival of the invasive Harlequin Ladybird.

The survey ran in 2014 and members of the public, schools, naturalists and community groups were invited to learn about ladybird identification and then submit their sightings. To read the final report of the survey, please send an email to: enquiries@iwt.ie

To submit further sightings, please visit the biology.ie website.

 

 

HOW TO OBSERVE A LADYBIRD:

▪   Don’t disturb them

▪   Make brief notes including date of sighting, location and description

▪   Take a photo if you can and not sure of identification

Download the Ladybird ID Chart and Larvae ID Chart to help you identify your sighting.

Thank you to the Ladybird Survey Uk for their kind permission to use their ID Information sheets. 

Ladybird Species in Ireland

There are 18 ladybird species recorded in Ireland.  However three of those 18 have not been seen for a long time.  The remaining 15 are listed below:

1. Adalia bipunctata – 2-spot ladybird

2. Adalia decempunctata – 10-spot ladybird 

3. Anatis ocellata – Eyed ladybird

4. Aphidecta obliterata – Larch ladybird

5. Calvia 14-guttata – Cream-spot ladybird

6. Chilocorus bipustulatus – Heather ladybird

7. Coccinella hieroglyphica – Hieroglyphic ladybird

8. Coccinella 7-punctata – 7-spot ladybird

9. Coccinella 11-punctata – 11-spot ladybird

10. Halyzia 16-guttata – Orange ladybird

11. Hippodamia 13-punctata – 13-spot ladybird

12. Myrrha 18-guttata – 18-spot ladybird

13. Myzia oblongoguttata – Striped ladybird

14. Propylea 14-punctata – 14-spot ladybird

15. Thea 22-punctata – 22-spot ladybird

We only have old records for:
 Anisosticta 19-punctata – Water ladybird
, Subcoccinella 24-punctata – 24-spot ladybird and 
Vibidia 12-guttata – 12-spot ladybird.

 Information kindly provided by National Museums Northern Ireland.

LIFE OF A LADYBIRD

What is a Ladybird?

A ladybird is a beetle (Coleoptera) with hard forewings known as Elytra that cover the abdomen and meet centrally and biting mouthparts.  The ladybird family is called the Coccinelidae. 

  • Size: Small (1-10mm) to Medium (1/16 – ¾ inch long)
  • Shape: Round or Oval Pronotum
  • Colour: Bright variety of colours e.g. yellow, orange, red and black patterned elytra
  • Parts of a Ladybird: Short clubbed antennae, short legs that are retractable under the body and feet (tarsi) have four segments but three are easily visible.

Where do they live?

A ladybird’s habitat can be a variety of vegetation such as hedgerows, trees and grasslands but they can also be found along waterways in reed beds and wetlands.  Some ladybirds are generalists and can be found in a wide range of habitats.  Others are more specialist, e.g. Larch Ladybird – Conifers.  Ladybirds hibernate in winter often in clusters to conserve heat.

What does it eat?

Food preference may vary between different species but most ladybirds enjoy aphids e.g. greenfly and coccids e.g. scale insects, mealybugs and mites.  A few species eat plants and specialise in mildew and others in fungi.  These specialised ladybirds have evolved and adapted mouth parts to handle these forms of food.  They can also supplement their diet with fruits and vegetables.

The LifecycleEgg, Larva, Pupa and Adult

  • October to February: Adult ladybirds hibernate (overwintering)
  • March to April: Adult ladybirds are active and seeking food
  • May: Male and female ladybirds mate
  • June to July: Females lay their eggs that hatch as larva.  The larva feed on aphids and form as Pupae.
  • August: New adults emerge from the Pupae
  • September: New adults are feeding and then overwinter until the following spring when the cycle begins again
  • Ladybirds complete their lifecycle within one year

Did you know?

  • The bright colours of many ladybirds are to warn predators that they are toxic and foul to taste.
  • They exude a toxic yellow substance from their leg joints (reflex blood) when under attack that is full of alkaloids.
  • Ladybirds can feed on up to 5,000 aphids in a year.
  • They eat pest insects so gardeners and farmers love them, as they are a natural pest controller of plants and crops.

THE HARLEQUIN – AN INVASIVE SPECIES

Why should we be concerned about the Harlequin?

The Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axaridis is an invasive ladybird originating in Asia.  It arrived in the UK in the summer of 2004 and is now found in all parts of England with a few isolated locations in Scotland.  It was introduced into North America in 1988 and is now a serious insect pest.  It has subsequently invaded much of north-western Europe and arrived in County Down in 2009. It was first reported in Counties Cork and Wicklow in 2010 and Carlow in 2011. The Harlequin causes problems in the natural environment in that it has a wide dietary range, outcompeting native ladybirds for their main prey of aphids and even consuming other ladybird species eggs and larvae. They can reproduce up to three generations per year whilst most other native ladybird species will only reproduce once.  They are a serious threat to our native species and it is important that we monitor their arrival and impact.

Download the Harlequin Ladybird Variation Chart.

 

The Ladybird Survey project is funded by Fota Wildlife Park.