Today the British charity Butterfly Conservation launches its Big Butterfly Count. All you need to take part is fifteen minutes in your garden. Download an identification chart and find out more here.
As well as butterflies, I’ve been spotting ladybirds today. Back in April, I noticed 7-spots (Coccinella septempunctata) emerging from among the violets. They do that every spring. And every summer, when the crowds of aphids appear, I wonder where the ladybirds are when I need them.
You can be sure they’re never far away. This morning I was about to tidy up some unsightly dead ox-eye daisies, and there among a carnage of aphids, I spied two generations of 7-spots.
The larvae have a distinctive pattern of two sets of double orange spots along each side.
Needless to say, my flowerbed is still full of dead daisies. They’ll stay undisturbed until all the ladybirds have grown and flown.
By the way, the larvae of the Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) look similar, but they have a line of orange spots along each side and a square arrangement of four orange tufts in the middle. They also are voracious aphid-eaters. You can find out more about ladybirds on the UK Ladybird Survey website.