With visits to some of my favourite haunts and lots to see elsewhere, July has been a great month for ladybird recording.
I haven’t been as active in my ladybird hunting this month – peak wildflower season leaving little time for insects. That said, I’ve still managed a few trips out in search of these fascinating little insects. Mostly to familiar sites which continue to turn up new and exciting species, though also a few new locations too.
With adult ladybirds present again after an early-summer hiatus, I have managed a respectable eighteen species in July. Among these, some nice scarcities and a number of new site records. Some highlights of July’s ladybird recording can be found below.
Rising Sun Country Park
Early in the month, a Friday off saw me walking to Rising Sun Country Park in search of conifer ladybirds. Before even getting started with the trees, several familiar species were noted on the walk in. 7-spot Ladybird was ubiquitous and 22-spot Ladybird was observed on a stand of mildew-addled Hogweed. More interesting perhaps was an Orange Ladybird found atop a bin in the Asda car park. Not a bad start…
Searching the trees at the base of the park’s pit heap, it wasn’t long until the first of the days specialist ladybirds put in an appearance. The lovely 18-Spot Ladybird below was one of two adults found on Scots Pine.
In a different area of the park, it was nice to catch up with not one but three Eyed Ladybirds. Britain’s largest ladybird, I seem to have good luck finding this species on the lower branches of Scots Pine, though, for something so large, they can be quite cryptic. A sweep net helps!
Two visits to Newburn last week for entirely different reasons, one an Natural History Society bioblitz and the other, a riverside walk with the other half. Despite their differences, both came up trumps with a fantastic haul of ladybirds.
On Saturday, some searching and sweeping around Urban Green Newcastle’s Tyne Riverside Country Park yielded the usual trio of 7-Spot, 14-Spot and Harlequin ladybirds. Better still, Larch Ladybird was found in the memorial garden and later, a 24-Spot Ladybird was swept from some riverside Mugwort. So much for only being found on campion and grasses, eh?
Returning to Newburn on Sunday, Matt in toe, we decided to spend some time beating some of the riverside conifers having spotted the larvae of Eyed Ladybird earlier in the summer. No such luck but we did encounter the rather handsome Striped Ladybird shown below.
Having only encountered my first Striped Ladybird in early 2022, I am now stumbling across this species pretty much anywhere with good-sized Scots Pines, but more on that later…
Adonis’ Ladybird is a scarce species of dry grassland habitats. Known to favour brownfield sites, I wasn’t too surprised to find the striking individual below at Newburn. Perched atop a stand of Wild Parsnip, it was nice to compare this to the larger 7-Spot Ladybirds nearby. Both species had clearly been drawn here by the glut of aphids and could be seen feeding on Willow-Parsnip Aphids (Cavariella theobaldi).
Highlights aside, there were lots of other ladybirds to see at Newburn. Searching pines, it was nice to see Pine Scymnus again after quite some time. Likewise, the tiny Epaulet Ladybird appears to be increasing again at what is only the second known site for this species locally.
Finally, the melanistic 2-spot Ladybird below seemed worthy of a photo too…
Cramlington Industrial Estate
While I’ve been visiting regular sites in search of ladybirds, I have also been trying to fill some gaps too. Having noticed several accessible pines by the A1068 at Cramlington, on Friday I decided to take a look.
Almost immediately upon arriving at Cramlington Industrial Estate, the Striped Ladybird below was found on the tip of a pine branch. A new square for what might just be my favourite British ladybird.
Searching the trees that line the road by the big factory here, I was surprised to find five 18-Spot Ladybirds too. Usually the scarcest of the conifer ladybirds, at least in my experience, they seem to be more abundant than previously thought. Or perhaps I am just getting my eye in…
The isolated Scots Pine pictured below grows on the central verge South of Cramlington Industrial Estate. Having driven past it many times, I have always thought it looked ‘good for ladybirds’. I was right! Dodging traffic, a search of the tree in question yielded more Striped and 18-Spot Ladybirds, as well as four Pine Scymnus.
Conifer specialists aside, Cramlington held a good variety of other ladybirds too. Predictably, 22-Spot Ladybird was found by searching Hogweed and Pine Ladybird was discovered by shaking a non-native conifer of some description. A single Meadow ladybird was also found in the somewhat barren grasslands at Northumberlandia.
More on North East ladybirds
As I visit more local sites in search of ladybirds and add more sightings to iRecord, I am becoming increasingly interested in this fascinating group of insects.
Keen to take this further, I have created a dedicated space on this blog where I’ll share everything ladybird related in the future. Take a look below.