I am always delighted when children start taking an interest in the wildlife around then and I actively encourage them to tell me about anything they find or see. When Kamron came to me to tell me he had found some interesting bugs and did I know what they were, I followed him out onto the playground. On a wooden enclosure, there were about 30 of these……
By now, there were several other children who had come to have a look! I explained that these were ladybird larvae and, when we looked more closely, we found a number of adult ladybirds as well as numerous larvae.
Ladybirds hatch out of eggs and start off as tiny larvae (like the caterpillar stage of a butterfly) As they grow, they shed their skin and they do this four times. Their final skins have orange markings on them, like the ones we found here. When they are fully grown, the larva shed their skin for a final time and turn into a pupa. Five days later and they have changed into a ladybird. They split the pupa skin and push their way out. The ladybird’s body is pale and soft at first. It gradually dries and hardens.
We think these could be the 24 spot ladybird which can have up to 26 spots.
Well done to Kamron for spotting these beauties!
POSTSCRIPT: Thank you for the comments on our blog and on twitter. On further examination and thanks to the brilliant ladybird larvae ID Chart at http://www.ladybird-survey.org/downloads/Ladybird%20larvae_v.1.4.pdf, these larvae do seem to be that of the Harlequin ladybird. A shame it is not our native ladybird who is doing so well in the school playground.