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Photospot: bryony ladybird

bryony ladybird

The bryony ladybird - also known as the gourd or melon ladybird - is a species we often note on Honeyguide holidays.

Henosepilachna argus (Epilachna chrysomelina in Chinery, also known as Henosepilachna elaterii) is orange, hairy (on the wing cases) and has 11 spots. Perhaps the most obvious feature is that we nearly always see it on squirting cucumber plants.

Intriguingly, it is also a recent colonist in the UK, in 1997 (source: UK ladybird survey) in Surrey, perhaps on account of global warming. In the UK it feeds on the leaves of white bryony.

Right: bryony ladybird on white bryony in the Spanish Pyrenees (Chris Gibson).

bryony ladybird on white bryony

Being distinctive and a species we may find in the UK are reasons to feature the bryony ladybird here. Worth checking any cultivated melons, gourds, cucumbers, marrows and pumpkins, as well as wild white bryony.

bryony ladybirds (Tim Strudwick)

Top photo: bryony ladybird, near Tarifa in south Spain, March 2015. Above: same species, Festos, Crete, April 2015 (Tim Strudwick).

More nature notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . red and black bugs

The bryony ladybird feeds on cucurbits - members of the cucumber/gourd family. Unusually for a ladybird, it is vegetarian - most ladybirds are predators.

bryony ladybird larva

It is said to be a pest on melons - the larvae, presumably. This was photographed on squirting cucumber in Crete, May 2016.

bryony ladybird on squirting cucumber (Helen Crowder)

Squirting cucumber Ecballium elaterium - above with bryony ladybird (Helen Crowder) - is often found on dry ground, roadsides, piles of rubble and disturbed places in southern Europe.

Squirting cucumber flowers Feb-Sept according to 'Mediterranean Wild Flowers' by Marjorie Blamey and Christopher Grey-Wilson. This one, above, was in October 2014, in La Mancha, so plainly hadn't read the book.

squirting cucumber fruits

The fruits (above, Helen Crowder, Tarifa) explode when ripe and " ... are always an amusement to catch the uninitiated observer", as Grey-Wilson puts it.

squirting cucumber

Squirting cucumber covering the ground as a mat in La Mancha, Spain, October 2014.

Photos and words by Chris Durdin, except where noted.

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