The Harlequin Ladybird Survey
Harlequin ladybird elytra
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Ladybird Spotters
This part of the website is aimed at younger people and children. You will find out lots of interesting facts about ladybirds, and activities you can do to learn more about them.

Why are ladybirds often brightly coloured?

The bright colours warn potential enemies such as predators that ladybirds are not at all tasty. This so called "warning colouration" reminds predators of previous distasteful encounters with ladybirds!

What is that yellow stuff they sometimes produce when they are disturbed?

This is called reflex blood. It is very strong smelling and contains the toxins which make ladybirds off putting to so many predators. Ladybirds do not die after producing reflex blood; it is part of their warning system.

What is a typical ladybird year like?

Ladybird adults spend the cold winter months in a dormant state. As the weather warms up in late February and March the adults begin to get active and search for early aphids to eat. The adults mate in the spring and the females lay eggs during the spring and early summer. This generation of adults then dies as the new generation hatches out. The newly emerged larvae (immature ladybirds) do not look anything like their parents; they are black and grub-like. During this stage they eat lots and shed their skin four times before pupating. The pupa stage lasts about a week and from this the new adult emerges. The new adults must eat lots of aphids to build up reserves to see them through the winter months.

Harlequin ladybird (H. axyridis) pupa © Bev Wigney, Crocodile PBase gallery

Any other questions?

If you have any questions you would like to ask the Ladybird Survey Team then please e-mail us:

You can have a go at designing your very own ladybird. Just print out this simple ladybird shape (PDF format), and let your imagination do the rest!

Why not have a go at the Spotted Game, on the Nature Detectives website? It's great fun!

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