How to identify: the Two-spot Ladybird

Scientific name: Adalia bipunctata

Why are we looking for it?

There is increasing evidence that Two-spot Ladybirds have declined in numbers severely and rapidly over the past few years. This is thought to be due to competition from the non-native Harlequin Ladybird, which competes for the same prey (aphids) and predates on Two-spot Ladybird eggs, larvae and pupae.

It’s really important that we find out more about how far numbers have declined in the UK. Are Two-spots more common in some places than others, and can we see differences between urban and rural areas?
 

Two common colour morphs of the Two-spot Ladybird

Identification features

  • small, oval-shaped beetle, 4-5mm long
  • domed back with colourful wing-cases
  • colour pattern varies, but commonly:
        - red with two black spots
        - black with four red spots

 

Identification tips

Could be confused with…
The Ten-spot Ladybird, which is a similar size and can also be black with red spots. Even though it's called the Ten-Spot the number of spots can vary, so look at the colour of the underside and legs to check – if they are black, then it’s a Two-spot, if they are yellowy-brown, it’s a Ten-spot.

The Two-spot Ladybird also has a similar colour pattern to some Harlequin Ladybirds, but the Two-spot is much smaller. Harlequins are 6-8mm long, almost twice the size of a Two-spot.

Where can I find it?
Across the UK in gardens, woodlands, hedgerows and meadows. Look on the stems and leaves of plants, flowers, nettles and bushes, where it can often be found feeding on aphids.

When can I find it?
From spring to autumn you will find it on plants. In the winter it hibernates on trees and inside buildings and outhouses.

Lifestyle

Two-spot Ladybirds live on plants, where both the adults and larvae (young) eat aphids such as greenfly.

Adults mate in late spring and lay clutches of eggs on plants during the late spring and early summer. These hatch into larvae, which feed on aphids throughout the summer, before pupating. Adults hatch from the pupa in late summer and feed until late autumn, when they enter hibernation until the next spring.

Many factors influence how long ladybirds live for, but adults can survive for up to a year.

What does it do for us?

The Two-spot Ladybird is well-loved by gardeners because it eats such a large number of aphids, keeping aphid populations down, as well as recycling nutrients. It’s better to encourage ladybirds to your garden or allotment, than to spray it with damaging pesticides.

Interesting fact

The bright colour of the Two-spot Ladybird warns predators that it tastes bad, so is best left uneaten. To defend itself, it can also secrete a bad-tasting yellow fluid called ‘reflex blood’.

 

Think you've seen one?

Two-spot LadybirdTake a photo and complete our simple online form to help us learn more about their distribution.

Submit a sighting

Where have they been seen?

UK mapExplore our interactive map and see where the Two-spot Ladybird has been recorded so far.

Species Quest results map

 

Need help with identification?

Simply upload a picture of your find to iSpot or the Natural History Museum's Bug forum and an online community of experts and enthusiasts will do their best to identify it.

Visit the iSpot website

Visit the Bug forum on the Natural History Museum's website

 

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