After we arrived home from a long walk to the Willows and back (who said you have to drive to out-of-town shopping centres?), Clare excitedly called me onto the balcony. While we were gone our first passion flower had appeared, but this wasn't what had excited Clare — in fact, we didn’t even notice the passion flower immediately, instead focusing on a small insect half a metre from it.
There have been ladybird larvae — strange black and orange creatures covered with tiny spikes — on our balcony for over a month now. On 30th June I spotted a particularly large one in the middle of the largest blackcurrant leaf, and took the photograph below.
Two days later, on 2nd July, Clare noticed its appearance had changed dramatically — it had entered the pupal stage.
We looked at it every day, several times a day, but it was only today, 11th July, that the adult ladybird emerged, eleven days after we had first seen it. It’s in what is known as a ‘teneral’ state — it’s still soft and pale, and without spots (despite the pupa having developed spots).
Four hours later it had become noticeably darker, and spots were starting to become visible. It seems to have twelve spots, but the twelve-spotted ladybird isn’t one of our native species, so we’ll have to wait for its pattern to develop more fully (assuming we can find it again tomorrow).