The Orange Ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata) is a common occurrence near deciduous trees. This species used to be restricted more towards ancient woodland where it was uncommon, but it has adapted well over the last century and is now common among trees such as Ash, Beech and Sycamore.
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
The orange ladybird is common among deciduous woodland, gardens and parks. It is common throughout the UK although more widespread in the south and rarer in the north, and can also be found in parts of Ireland as well as most of Europe.
The adult (imago) orange ladybird, as its name suggests, is an orange-yellow colour. The elytra (hardened wing cases) have a total of 12 - 16 creamy white spots, with equal amounts on each elytron. The pronotum (flattened area behind the head) is also orange-yellow but somewhat paler than the elytra with dark cream spots. The eyes are large and black, and the legs are dark orange. The elytra are round and curve out towards the bottom to create a clear hardened lip. There is also a clear edge to the very rounded pronotum (it almost makes it look as though the body is covered by a clear shell). The orange ladybird reaches a size of 6 - 7mm in length.
The white larva is long with a yellow spot near the head and two yellow stripes down the body. The back is covered in rows of black knobbly protrusions.
DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION
The adults and larvae both feed on mildew (small white fungi) that forms on the broad deciduous leaves. This species overwinters on trees and under leaf litter, where they congregate with other orange ladybirds and sometimes other species.
OTHER NOTABLE INFORMATION
The Cream-spot Ladybird (Calvia quattuordecimguttata) is similar to this species, but is generally darker, has a less rounded pronotum and lacks the flattened clear edges to the elytra and pronotum. A similar, yet sporadic invasive species in the UK, Calvia decemguttata also resembles this species, but it only has 10 white spots on the elytra and it is a darker orange overall. Sometimes the orange ladybird is given the (incorrect) binomial name of Halyzia 16-guttata.
The specimen photographed here was found at Snuff Mills, Bristol, UK. They were rather plentiful wandering along the riverside railings, under the shadow of the surrounding Beech and Sycamore trees.