According to Wikipedia, there’s a plague of locusts, a tower of giraffes and a flamboyance of flamingos, a kettle of hawks, a pandemonium of parrots and a mischief of rats. But they have no collective noun for ladybirds. Research Maniacs however call a group of ladybirds, a loveliness; a loveliness of ladybirds. It does rather describe them, doesn’t it?
I asked Google this question because we have been inundated with a ‘loveliness’ of ladybirds for about the last month. I started to notice the little orange and black beauties walking around on the north facing windowsills. And then dead ladybird bodies on the sills, on the floor and on the upstairs beds. In 23 years, this has never happened before. In fact, I haven’t seen very many of the orange and black variety for a long, long time. The Steelblues are pretty common though.
Is it related to the mild autumn? Or does it have something to do with the new aluminium windows we’ve put in upstairs? Whatever the reason, I thought they’d left as I hadn’t seen any for a few days and then the weather changed. Winter made an appearance and for the first time in months, we closed the drapes to keep the cold out and, whoa!!!! There in the folds of the drapes were the ladybirds, small groups of them, about 50 in total, alive and enjoying the shelter.
I thought it was a bonus to have these critters pick our place to live. But they may not be so welcome. Landcare Research have identified them as Harlequin Ladybirds. This is what they say about the ladybird’s appearance.
Adult harlequin ladybirds may be red or orange with zero to 21 black spots. They may be all black or black with four or two orange or red spots. Most individuals have white on the pronotum (first segment behind the head). The black spots on the pronotum usually form an ‘M’ shape when seen from the top and looking forward. One consistent feature is that the legs are reddish-brown.
I had to look up adventive. It means not native and not yet well established. Hmm, made it to the Bay of Plenty already.
This adventive ladybird of variable appearance was first found in 2016 in Auckland and is now also in Bay of Plenty. Its native range is Central and Eastern Asia, but it was deliberately released into USA, Europe, South America and Middle East and has spread to other countries. It feeds mainly on aphids, but also feeds on other small insects including ladybirds. In New Zealand, it has been observed feeding on giant willow aphid. It is also regarded as a pest of some fruit crops.
Conservation status: This adventive ladybird is present in Auckland and will probably spread to other parts of the country. It may assist with control of some aphid pests, but may also harm native and beneficial insects.
Check out this very interesting fact sheet.