Photographing Ladybirds

posted in: Photography | 27
this is a coallage of different ladybirds in my garden

2014 was the year for photographing ladybirds.  Moreover I'd never seen quite so many of these little native 7 spot beetles - Coccinella 7-punctata before in the garden.  


When I was pruning the Potentilla fruticosa hedge after the winter I found quite a few of them.  They were nestled together on the lower branches. Though the majority of them seemed to have hibernated during the winter in the Picea glauca var albertiana 'Conica'. 


That dwarf conifer is over half a metre in diameter at the base. Subsequently there's a deep cushion of old pine needles and pea gravel under the tree. During the spring the conifer always had some ladybirds sitting for hours on the branches in the sunshine. I'd also find them in the flower borders.


These are all handheld macros I held my breath. 

In fact ladybirds haven't just got curves and spots. They've got moustaches and beards too as you'll soon find out! 

Tips on Photographing Ladybirds



Sometimes I'd just wait ...and wait.  Photographing ladybirds takes loads of time and using a tripod was much too restrictive for me. You have to rely on your own body, a tree trunk, a wall or a stool to give you support.  Little do you realise it, but your muscles tone up quite considerably.  It really does start to get easier to get hand held shots in focus over the course of the ladybird season.


You clench your arms close to your body. Usually while you're on your knees, lying down and leaning on your elbows. Then as you follow the little beetle as it moves you press the shutter. AND at the same time you hold your breath!  


Without fail I'm always excited when I started to see their elytra (red wing cases) start to open. They might extend their wings and fly off. In that split second with my adrenalin flowing and increased heart rate I'd just shoot continuously at high speed. Approx 8 frames per second hoping that at least one of the photos in flight would be sharp.  


I also have to add that the ladybirds in my garden don't get 'put to sleep' before photoshoots ...or 'glued into place'.  My subjects are alive and well, fast moving and a real challenge to photograph.

this is an image of a ladybird on a dicentra flower

...You're my LUV bug

this is an image of a A 7 spot ladybird flying of a nepeta flower

...I was born to be wild!

this is an image of a 7 spot ladybird on chatreuse coloured euphorbia blooms life on the edge

this is an image of a ladybird on an orangeViola cornuta 'Patiola Pure Orange'

...just cuz I'm a lady

this is an image of a ladybird on a yellow cowslip

...I'm not your average lady!

this is a ladybird on an allium flower

...there's something bugging me at the moment!

this is an image of a ladybird walking across a brunnera leaf

...Bein' a ladybug automatically makes me a girl ... right? ~ Francis (It's a bugs life)

this is an image off a 7 spot ladybird flying off a white bridal crown daffodil

...bishy bishy barneybee, tell me when your wedding be. If it be tomorrow day, flap your wings and fly away. ~ Broad Norfolk by Jonathan Mardle

this is an image of a 7 spot ladybird on a Brunnera macrophylla 'Looking Glass' gave me curves and spots ...what about you?

We call them ladybirds here in Scotland, while to many of you they're called lady beetles or ladybugs. We've all grown up with them as characters in nursery rhymes and books and as the logo on those iconic hardback ladybird storybooks.  There's also another name for them and I'll let my friend Alison who grew up in Norfolk, in the south of England tell you that story.



I remember being under a Willow tree with my Grandad when I was about 6 years old looking at a ladybird.  He told me that Norfolk folk called ladybirds Bishy barnabees.  It wasn't until about 4 years ago when I was speaking to another friend that I found out that there was a Bishop Barnaby based in Norfolk and Sussex in the 16th century who in folklore wore a red cloak with black spots on it while giving communion. Your photos bring back a lovely remembrance of my ancestry and my childhood Rosie!

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Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

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27 Responses

  1. Pam's English Garden

    Your charming posting evoked lots of memories, Rosie. My favorite nursery rhyme was "Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home … " and my favorite pictures here are those with the wings open. I still have Ladybird books that I brought with me to USA from England for my children, and eventually my grandchildren. I enjoyed your description of how you took the hand-held photographs. You inspire me to be more patient with my own photographs. Happy New Year! P. x

  2. Melanie J Watts

    What fabulous photos. They would be great made into a fun childrens book complete with your cutlines, the hilarious words you wrote under each photo. I can't imagine how many photos you took and how long you waited to get these perfect shots. 🙂

    • Rosie Nixon

      That's a lovely compliment Melanie especially since you've just published your own book recently 🙂 I'm still going through the photos as I've sooooooo many … though there wasn't much weeding done when the ladybirds were about lol

  3. Alistair

    You have a lot of patience Rosie, I would be very proud to say these were photos taken by myself, I just haven't got the knack or should I say skill for it.