The Beetle bug…

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone
All except one, and that’s Little Anne
For she has crept under the warming pan.

I remember this nursery rhyme from my childhood…. but it was not till recently that I actually took notice of them. The ‘Ladybird’ is usually referred to as ‘Beetle‘ by us.. which also brings to mind, either the 60’s car Beetle Volkswagen.. or as children the famous series of ‘Ladybird’ books.. and as a teen the famous “Beatles‘, on whose music we all were humming along… It was only after I shifted into the mountains that I started noticing this little ‘bug’… and then, I suddenly realised that there were more varieties than I had thought till now…

The usual image being that of the red ladybird painted with a few black dots…. seven to be precise.. three on each wing and one central spot… called ‘Coccinella septempuctata’, or the ‘seven spotted’ beetle

Coccinella septempunctata

While ‘Coccinella septempunctata’ may have the distinction of being most common and portrayed Ladybird…. but much to my astonishment another species actually took the distinction of being the most common one…. but it comes in so many colours and designs that one would not associate it as being the same species….  As explained by Dr. Janakiraman Poorani, Harmonia eucharis (Mulsant) – is a highly polymorphic species and it is sometimes difficult to believe such different patterns belong to one species”. And this can indeed be witnessed with the record of Kalatope Sanctuary …..

Harmonia eucharis
Harmonia eucharis
Harmonia eucharis
Harmonia eucharis
Harmonia eucharis
Harmonia eucharis
Harmonia eucharis
Harmonia eucharis
Harmonia eucharis

One other species which is very widely found at the altitude of 2000 mts is Epilachna sp…. Apart from one positive id made by Dr. Pooani, I am quite confused about the others… and maybe they too are merely colour and spot variations of the same… unfortunately cannot be confirmed without dissection and is something beyond my capabilities….

Epilachna sp
Epilachna sp
Epilachna ocellata

This year, due to some change in weather conditions (or some other natural phenomenon) I chanced to find a few unusual new varieties which I had not noticed in the Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary, like

Cheilomenes sexmaculata
Adalia tetraspilota
Illeis c.f. confusa
Halyzia sanscrita
Harmonia dimidiata

I am amazed continually by the varied species and the beauty of nature that I have had a chance to observe in the Kalatope Wildlife Sanctuary. And I do hope that those who have visited these pages of the records of this sanctuary and have visited there or have the chance to live there get to notice these beauties and appreciate them as I have been able to…..

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT to Dr. Janakiraman Poorani from Project Directorate of Biological Control, Banguluru for her guidance and help in identifying all these Beetles. Her website ‘Coccinellidae of the Indian subcontinent’ is perhaps the only useful Ladybird identification site I have found till now for Indian species of Ladybirds.
Ladybird links

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