Again I would like to thank everyone who has become involved and helped in one way or another with my project. I would also like to thank the Scottish Natural Heritage who gave me a grant last year to continue my work. Because of the widespread media coverage of my project last year I also received a few samples from England. However I will deal with the areas separately as far as the results are concerned.

It appears that the 7 spot population was slow to materialise last year with ladybirds being difficult to find in early spring and summer, but the numbers dramatically increased towards the end of September. From January through to July I received 154 ladybirds, in August, September and October I received 332 ladybirds. Of the total 486 ladybirds, 207 were males and 279 females. Again more females than males were parasitised, 32% of the female population compared to 16% of the male.

ENGLAND The trend of ladybird emergence seems to be different for England. Although I did not have many sent to me, the majority of the ladybirds appeared in the spring and summer and not so many in the late summer/autumn. From January through to July I received 134 ladybirds and only 12 after this time. However the ratio of female to males found was even greater with only 43 males and 103 females. Of the samples I received 31% of the female population was infected compared to 21% of the male.

Even though emergence trends are different it appears that the female ladybirds are always parasitised more than the males. We have also discovered through our work several other preferences of the wasp;
A) The wasp prefers to lay its eggs in adults rather than larvae.
B) The wasp prefers young rather than old hosts. However these preferences diminish if they are denied laying opportunities. The wasp will attack several other species of ladybirds, especially if there are not 7 spot ladybirds around. But the 2 spot ladybird, which is also attacked, appears to be an unsuitable host-the wasp egg never matures.

However as well as the survey we have been working on new specialised techniques. In collaboration with the Chemistry Department, University of Dundee, non-invasive and non-destructive techniques to assess parasitisation status using nuclear magnetic resonance microscopy, has been developed. This will allow assessment of parasitisation status without harming the ladybird, which may then be used for a number of experiments, such as tests of the ability of wasps to discriminate the parasitisation status of potential hosts.

Also in collaboration with our own Chemistry Department here at SCRI, we are studying the anatomical changes in the 7 spot ladybird induced by diet and by infection with the larva of the wasp using magnetic resonance microimaging. This project has been extremely important scientifically. However, I feel I have achieved something else equally important to science. To me, the way in which involvement in the survey has altered peoples' perceptions is perhaps just as important. I do not just mean that many people are now more aware of ladybirds, their life cycle, their needs and their value in pest control, but rather, the role of the survey in education. Over the years I have given talks to numerous different organisations and schools, and it has given me great pleasure to receive back letters, pictures and story books thanking me and telling me how I have kindled their interest in biology. If this project had done nothing else but make youngsters more aware and caring about the natural world around them, it would have been more than worthwhile.

We have the ability to influence our environment significantly, for better or worse, and we have a responsibility to use it wisely.

Finally thanks to all concerned, the video "Ladybird Spot Checks" is still available.


Progress report of the 1998 survey

Progress report of the 1999 survey


Micscape article

































© Ltd, Microscopy-UK, and all contributors 1995 onwards. All rights reserved. Main site is at with full mirror at