Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ladybird metamorphosis and our first passion flower

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).


  1. I'm pretty sure it's a Harlequin ladybird. You can tell from the larvae - they have tufty bits coming out from their orange patches, whereas the native ladybird larvae (at least the ones I've seen) are smooth. Plus it's larger and orange and it has that unusual spot pattern.

  2. Thanks Emma! The explains the sheer amount we have at least another two and we've found other empty cases.

    I can't say I mind very much. Especially not while the green fly are reproducing on the very peas I want to eat tonight.