As one of Britain’s best loved and colourful group of insects, ladybirds are currently hibernating. Typically different species will usually hibernate in different places; some shelter under tree bark, others sleep under leaf litter, but unusually in this photo you can see they have all grouped together, still hibernating just inside an old farm door.
In a more natural environment, they would sleep through to March or April. On the farm, they benefit the crop by controlling the aphids population.
Fascinated by variety within this small group of ladybirds, from the familiar red with symmetrical black spots to orange, yellow, black and even camouflaged brown ones with 2, 7, 14 spots.
However it is black or Harlequin ladybirds that gardeners and farmers are concerned about. These invasive incomers are gobbling up native species.
These ‘alien’ species were first spotted in the UK just over a decade ago. They come from Asia and America and their numbers have grown significantly. They pose a threat to native ladybirds, a little like red squirrels being overtaken by the more dominant grey squirrel.