Take The Ladybird Challenge!
The Ladybird Challenge aims to involve you in our research. Help us find the 7-spot ladybird and the wasp parasite Dinocampus coccinellae (sorry, there's no English name for it!) that attacks it.
This research project is investigating whether the natural balance between the 7-spot ladybird and this wasp parasite has been disrupted by the arrival of another ladybird: the invasive alien harlequin ladybird. This invasive ladybird species has caused large population declines for many native UK ladybirds, but its impact is predicted to be even more widespread, with 1000 insect species affected in the UK. We want to know if ladybird parasites have been impacted.
We therefore need your help to find 7 spot ladybirds and tell us whether or not they have been attacked by the Dinocampus wasp. We can then link your observations to information gathered by the UK Ladybird Survey on the number of harlequins in your area to help us answer our question.
- Find your ladybirds: Keep an eye out for 7-spot ladybirds when you're outside. Here are some ladybird spotting tips.
- Do they have a cocoon: Note whether or not they have a silk cocoon underneath them (white/grey/brown and seed shaped). See here for what to look for.
- Take a picture: Take a snap of your ladybird to share with us! This allows us to verify your record.
- Where are you: Note where you are, your grid reference or name of the local area (for example the town/village/park name).
- Upload your records: Use your phone or computer to let us know your findings. Record them using the online form.
- Earn your spots: For every record you create you will earn a ladybird spot. Can you earn all 7 spots?
Ladybird spotting tips
- Looking for ladybirds is easiest on a sunny day: you will often find 7-spot ladybirds basking in the sunshine!
- The best time of year for 7-spot ladybirds is May until the autumn.
- The favourite food of the 7-spot ladybird is aphids (green fly), therefore the best place to look for them is on rose bushes, fruit trees and other garden plants. You can also commonly find them on nettles and brambles in hedgerows.
- A ladybird that has a cocoon between its legs is stuck down with silk threads to whatever it is sitting on. It is therefore a good idea to look under leaves as well as on the top.