Ladybirds along the Tyne – Elswick, Heaton, Havannah & Prudhoe

From the city car parks and urban cemeteries to chalk mounds at Prudhoe, it has been a fantastic fortnight for ladybird recording.

With little time for trips further afield, walks during the closing days of September have seen me sticking closer to home than usual. That said, it has still been a busy few weeks on the ladybird front. With trips to the glorious Prudhoe Spetchells, local cemeteries and a handful of urban areas, there’s been an awful lot to see.

Starting with 24-Spot Ladybird and once again, this usually scarce ladybird has proven itself exceptionally abundant along the Tyne. Visiting Prudhoe, Matt and I found no fewer than 30 while exploring a small patch of grassland by the sewage works. More interesting still, several were also found high up in a pine tree – an odd location for a primarily terrestrial insect. Elsewhere, 24-Spot Ladybirds have also cropped up of late at Wylam and in the city at Elswick.

Seldom numerous, Pine Ladybird is not a species I encounter frequently here outside of the winter months. With this in mind, it was good to find decent numbers while exploring the Spetchells – the majority being swept from immature Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris). Away from Prudhoe, last week, a single Pine Ladybird was also found in the car-park of the Mercedes garage at Scotswood – who says ladybird recorders don’t visit some glamourous locations?

Whereas Pine Ladybird is a species I see infrequently, a couple of other ladybirds are far more reliable. I won’t spend much time on 7-Spot Ladybird and 2-Spot Ladybird – both are somewhat omnipresent here – but both were encountered at Prudhoe too, predominately on pine.

Slightly more exciting now and the short walk between Wylam and Prudhoe provided a nice opportunity to explore Moo Pond, a small but productive wetland en route to the Spetchells. With plenty of Bulrush (Typha latifolia) it is usually reliable for Water Ladybird and sure enough, with only a few minutes of searching, the individual below was found tucked away in a leaf-sheath.

Something a little different now and on the same visit to Prudhoe, it was nice to encounter 18-Spot Ladybird while scrutinising the pines growing on Spetchell three. A scarce conifer specialist, this is one of the species I come by least often. This record looks to be the first for the site but seems somewhat overdue given the wealth of conifers present.

A few days later, it was nice to also three of these ladybirds at the ever-reliable Jesmond Old Cemetery, while this weekend, two more were found at Havannah Nature Reserve.

Taking a quick detour into the world of inconspicuous ladybirds now and as ever, Pine Scymnus remains relatively easy to find locally. The one pictured below was beaten from Scots Pine atop the Prudhoe Spetchells though others were found recently at Gosforth Nature Reserve and Havannah.

One of the easier ladybirds to find locally, 22-Spot Ladybirds have been encountered recently at Prudhoe, as well as at Gosforth. Most interesting was a sighting of six ladybirds feeding on a mildew-ridden Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) at Elswick, while a few more were found secreted away in some ornamental Euonymus. I must remember to check planted shrubs too!

22-Spot Ladybird (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata), Elswick, Newcastle

Having driven past it many times, our visit to the Western side of Newcastle provided the perfect opportunity to explore some of the roadside grasslands that fringes the busy main road at Scotswood. Planted by the council with an interesting chalky mix, it has always looked fairly promising. After ten minutes of searching, I’d all but given up hope when the beautiful Adonis’ Ladybird below appeared in the net. A real treat.

Now for the undisputed highlight of the last fortnight’s ladybird searching. Cream-streaked Ladybird remains a scarce species in the North East, though one which is evidently spreading northward. I’ve recorded this species at a few sites locally of late but each time the encounter comes as a surprise. It has been great to catch up with this species twice recently: firstly at Jesmond Old Cemetery, a known haunt, and secondly, in an isolated pine at Scotswood. Surely this is one of the best-looking British ladybirds?

Last but not least, something a little closer to home. Continuing a good run of Striped Ladybird encounters and having noticed a few as yet unladybirded pine trees behind my local Sainsbury’s in Heaton, I opted for a quick look a fortnight past. After a little searching, it was exciting to find this handsome individual below at rest on a nearby fence post. A full-fat tick for my little urban patch…

1 Comment

  1. Louise Hislop says:

    Great blog thanks James!

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