A colony of ladybirds has been living in an unused metal letterbox. Is this unusual, and are they useful ladybirds or pests?
Your ladybirds are a useful species known as the common spotted ladybird. Their larvae feed on garden pests such as aphids, mites and scale insects.
Larvae are mostly black, with spiny sides, not at all like the rounded, colourful adults.
The adults sip nectar from flowers, as well as eating aphids.
Ladybirds (or ladybugs) often crowd together in winter in sheltered places away from extremes of weather.
The common spotted ladybird has 23 black spots. They may be dull or bright orange. The leaf-eating pest ladybird is similar, but it has 28 spots.
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