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Mystery Picture Answers

No.18

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Ladybird Larva

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Ladybird Larva

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Adult 7-Spot Ladybird

 

The abdomen (body) of a Ladybird Larva.  This strange looking creature appears quite different from the familiar adult beetles which appear throughout Britain during most months of the year.  One of the most common species of the 100 or so found in Europe and the 42 in Britain is the Seven-Spot Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata.  Both adult and larval stage Seven-Spot Ladybirds are carnivores, feeding on aphids and small caterpillars.  As a result they are very useful in the garden keeping down a number of pests.  The spiky appearance of the larva with its long ribbed body has earned it its nickname of 'insect alligator'.   Ladybird larvae grow quickly on their diet of greenfly and shed their skin three times in order to allow their body to expand in size.  They pupate on leaves and the adult beetle emerges after about two weeks.  Adult Ladybirds in Britain hibernate in sheltered places such as hollow plant stalks through the winter and emerge during the spring to lay the first batch of eggs.  Most ladybirds will live for a maximum of around 12 months and consume around 5500 aphids, 500 in the larval stage and 5000 in the adult!  The larvae of ladybirds are also cannibals and will often eat each other.

The bright coloration of the adult ladybird is usually a warning to other animals not to eat it.  The Seven-Spot Ladybird produces a nasty tasting yellow liquid if it feels threatened..

 

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