I just happened to look out of the window this morning at my over grown grass that needs cutting and there to my surprise was one solitary ladybird, a beetle that I haven't seen for a couple of years and perhaps because of the rain.
So I nipped out with my camera and took a macro shot of this delightful creature to share with you all.
A few facts that I have gleaned are :-That this particular type is probably at least as widespread as the 14-spot ladybird in Ireland though less common in upland areas and more generally scarce in heather moorland. It is worth saying that we do live in an upland area!
It was recorded mainly from herbaceous swards (12 occasions), and to a much lesser extent on conifer (2) or broadleaf (1) foliage or in heather (1). Larvae have been found by sweeping in overgrown, floriferous, mainly legume-dominated swards (2) or on Cirsium arvense (3) in semi-improved pasture.
The intensity of ground colour may vary and the relative size of spots, but otherwise variation is limited.
My hope is that this sighting is an omen which will give us a splendid summer !
Gender identification of ladybirds is extremely difficult and virtually impossible on live ladybugs even for the experts.
Behavioural and ecological research on H. axyridis, including examination of its positive and negative impacts, could benefit from in-field techniques for sexing this coccinellid. As mentioned by Majerus (1994), the sex of coccinellid adults can be easily determined through dissection, but more efficient techniques for sexing live adults are necessary.
Non-destructive sex determination in coccinellids is generally difficult, with no characters applicable across the taxon (Majerus 1994; Hodek and Honek 1996). Despite the lack of all encompassing characters for sex determination, sexual dimorphism does appear to exist within most species. For many species, males are smaller with lighter pigmentation on the anterior portion of the head and slightly longer antennae (Hodek and Honek 1996). .