7 spot Ladybird in Winter

posted in: Gardening | 6
this is an image of ladybirds in winter

The story of the 7 Spot Ladybird in Winter ...a Scottish one!

It's the 21st January.  Snow blankets the garden like a thick white woollen shroud.

The thermometer reads -6.8°C and daylight has finally arrived.  It's time to layer up and get out into the winter garden.  With every step you take there's a distinct crunch.

The air feels thick, raw and piercing.  Moreover it chills to your very bones.  You inhale and the lining of your nose starts to sting. You exhale and your breathe lingers in the air like fog.

Thickly gloved hands clumsily try to adjust the legs on the tripod.  It's no use ...the gloves have to come off as I manually adjust my equipment and camera settings.


Brrrrh ...what I am doing outside at 8 am with a camera?
 
I have to find out ... I can't wait any longer.
 
Did my 7 spot ladybird survive to live another day?

Natural Ladybird Antifreeze

On my last blog post If you were a ladybird where would you spend the winter? I shared how I quite by accident found this little ladybird in the garden.

 

I thought it was in diapause (a period of dormancy in an insect especially during unfavourable environmental conditions.) but after observing it for days I discovered that it was much more active than I first realised.

 

Who would have thought that a 7 spot ladybird in winter would be active?  I certainly didn't!

this is an image of A 7 spot ladybird in diapause at minus 6.6 C on 21st January 2015 in my Perthshire garden
Native 7 spot ladybird / Coccinella 7-punctata at 8am on 21st January 2015
this is an image of a ladybird on a shasta daisy seedhead in Jan 2015
The ladybird hasn't any sign of frost on its tiny little body
this is an image of a 7 spot ladybird in my garden in January
21st January afternoon

 

Despite everything else in the garden being covered in frost this little beetle still had some moisture visible on its body.  It was very obvious that the natural ladybird antifreeze I wrote about in my previous blog post was working to prevent this beetle from freezing.
 
 
By that very same afternoon when the highest temperature was zero °C the ladybird had moved 180 degrees!  Who would have thought that in those winter temperatures it was still prepared to move around!

The story of the 7 Spot ladybird in winter continues ...

Every day I'd check and it was still there doing it's 360 degree tour around the seed head.
 
Then on 25th January when I was putting out fresh bird seed I just happened to go over to check on it.
 
Well I was so shocked as it was up on top of the Shasta daisy seed head and had both wings expanded.  
 

Oh no was it going to fly off before I got a chance to photograph it once again?

I ran indoors for the camera hoping it wouldn't have flown off before I got back. Thankfully I grabbed the tripod as the light was poor even shooting wide open.
 
 
By the time I reached the plant again it had almost retracted its wings.
 
 
Then it looked straight into my camera lens and went back into it's usual position on the seed head.
this is a ladybird opening its wings in winter
with the red spotted elytra partially open
this is a A 7 spot ladybird on a  shasta daisy seedhead
everything seems to be operational

The next day it had gone. Hopefully it flew to somewhere much warmer in the garden!

Another Survivor

In the meantime I've found another 7 spot ladybird. This time in the front garden and on a plant that has been used before as a ladybird winter home as I recorded here in 2012 - 1st Phenology Report of the Year. This one comes out when it's sunny and by evening it tucks itself back into the Carlina acaulis thistle seed head. Just as well as this week the temperature has dipped down to  -7°C /19.4°F overnight in the garden.

 

Don't you think that bugs can be fascinating to observe? I appreciate the 'little things' in life much more as I get older!

 

 

this is an image of a a 7 spot ladybird on a carlina thistle in January 2015

this is an image of a 7 spot ladybird snug and warm inside a carlina thistle seedhead

Rosie Nixon
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Rosie is a passionate wildlife gardener in Scotland, a Perthshire / Tayside flower and garden photographer and writer. She enjoys soaking up nature in her own garden and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that buzzes, creeps, crawls or flutters. She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography.

Rosie Nixon
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6 Responses

  1. Marianne

    Yes… Bugs are absolutely fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing your little Lady Beetle 🙂

  2. Angie

    It's good to appreciate the little things in life. Great photography Rosie. I hope they continue to hang around in your garden.

  3. rusty duck

    It really is amazing how anything so tiny can survive these low temperatures. I feel the same about the smaller birds. Yet somehow they manage it.

  4. myaberdeengarden

    Lovely photos. I am so jealous as we hardly ever see ladybirds. I have even left a couple of patches of nettles at the back of my border just for them. Clearly the cold isn't the reason, I wonder if something is eating them?

  5. Millymollymandy

    Hi Rosie – some more wonderful ladybird photos and how lucky you are to have some bugs to watch in winter. Great that you can observe and learn more about their behaviour this way. That last one has found a really nice fluffy place to overwinter! 🙂

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