Seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)
|Size||Length: 5.2 - 8 mm (2)|
Very common in Britain (3).
Ladybirds are perhaps the most well-known and popular of all British beetles, and the seven-spot ladybird is one of the commonest species (2). This rounded beetle has bright red wing cases with 7 black spots, although some individuals may have more or fewer spots. The thorax is black with patches of pale yellow at the front corners (3). The common name of this group of beetles, 'ladybird', was originally given to the seven-spot in honour of the Virgin Mary; the red wing cases symbolising the Virgin's red cloak, with the seven spots representing her seven joys and seven sorrows. The larvae are blackish in colour and are active predators of aphids (4).
Found in central and northern Europe and is extremely common and widespread in Britain (3).
This ladybird occurs in a wide range of habitats and is a familiar garden denizen (1).
Both adults and larvae are voracious predators of aphids, and are one of the gardener's greatest natural allies (4). Ladybirds lay their yellow eggs in small groups on leaves (5). The black larvae have relatively long legs, and they are active predators. When threatened, adults exude a bright yellow distasteful substance from the joints of the legs, which dissuades potential predators from eating a ladybird. Adults overwinter in garden sheds, amongst vegetation, in crevices in fences and a range of similar locations, and can often be discovered in fairly large numbers during this time. They emerge in March and April (4).
There is much folklore centred on ladybirds; ladybird numbers are said to indicate the number of aphids due that particular year, they are also widely thought to bring good luck, particularly with regards to romance (4). There are many rhymes associated with these beetles, the most well known in England begins: 'Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home, your house is on fire and your children are gone' (4).
This beetle is very common and is not threatened.
Conservation action has not been targeted at this species.
For more on the folklore associated with this species see: Fauna Britannica by Stefan Buczacki (Hamlyn).
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- Larvae: stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- Thorax: part of the body located near the head in animals. In insects, the three segments between the head and the abdomen, each of which has a pair of legs.
National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (Jan 2003):
- Harde, K. W. (2000) A field guide in colour to beetles. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
- Lyneborg, L. (1976) Beetles in colour. Blandford Press, Dorset.
- Buczacki, S (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.
- Joy, N. (1933) British beetles; their homes and habits. Frederick Warne & Co., Ltd., London.