I just found this bedraggled ladybird climbing up the inside of the front window. I think it’s a melanic variant of a 2-spot, but I’m no expert in insects so feel free to put me right!
Isn’t January a bit early for ladybirds?
EDIT – asking around on a few discussion boards, it seems that I was completely wrong about my id, and it is in fact one of the much-feared harlequin ladybirds, specifically of the ‘spectabilis’ variant. For some reason I’d discounted this, probably because I’d always presumed them to be bigger due to their fearsome reputation.
The harlequin is a species native to Asia, that was introduced to America to help keep aphids at bay. It subsequently somehow found its way to Europe, and reached Britain in 2004. It is a problem because due to its large size and voracious appetite, it is in danger of outcompeting native ladybird species. It is also considered something of a pest in America, because many thousands of individuals sometimes overwinter in houses! Maybe I should think myself lucky I only found the one…
Apparently it’s also not uncommon to find ladybirds at this time of year after warm spells, and harlequins are more tolerant to cold than other species.
(Thanks to user ‘Dogghound’ on the Wild About Britain forum).
Here’s a couple more pictures (click for full size)…