But tonight I got a very rare opportunity to make a feature of a single species in my post, so here it is:
Ladybirds start off as eggs and then hatch into larvae that go though 3 - 4 stages (instars), shedding their skin as they grow. Their sole food is aphids, so judging by the number of larvae and pupae I found tonight, a vast number of aphids have been consumed this spring.
Early larvae of the 7-spot ladybird are dark with yellow or orange spots:
|7-spot ladybird larva, early instar|
|Final instar 7-spot ladybird larva|
|7-spot larva about to pupate|
|7-spot larva during pupation|
The outer skin is shed and pushed to the rear of the pupa by means of several quick thrusts of the entire body (the shed skin can clearly be seen at the rear of the pupa):
|Fresh 7-spot ladybird pupa|
After a short time, the pupa hardens and takes on a darker colour:
|7-spot ladybird pupa|
And after a few days:
|Adult 7-spot Ladybird|
I have never seen such a wide range of stages of one species in one place at one time. Our exceptional spring weather has clearly been beneficial to the 7-spot at least.