7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata)
Out in the garden you will be starting to encounter the familiar ladybird. The insects you find now will have hibernated over winter in a garden shed or somewhere safe and are now out and about feeding up and preparing to breed.
There are actually 45 species in this family but the bright red and black 7-spot is the most familiar although the 2-spot is similar and also common.
Ladybirds are to be encouraged in the garden as they, and their larvae, consume vast numbers of greenfly and other 'pests'. The new ladybird on the block, however, the Harlequin, is less welcome and threatens to the future of our own native species.
The bright colours are a warning to birds that they have an exceedingly unpleasant taste. They also exude drops of pungent, staining blood when handled which smells for quite a while afterwards.
"Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home, your house is on fire and your children are gone ..."