This is my usual sort of ladybird – the one I grew up with – the native British variety:
This is the 7-spot. If one of them flew onto your hand you had to recite a little rhyme and blow it gently into the air:
Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home
Your house is on fire, your children are gone
Not such a kind little rhyme, so its fortunate that ladybirds only speak Insect. Ladybirds were sacred. You were never, ever to kill one: it was the worst of bad luck.
Occasionally, but rarely, you would be used as a landing strip by one of these:
The 2-spot was even luckier. And I am sure, though I can’t find a picture of one now, that I was once landed on by a 1-spot. But it may have been a mutation, or mythical. I may have just been told about it.
This morning Henry almost killed a ladybird. It was the same colour as him – pale ginger – and maybe that was why he took such a dislike to it. Competition. He’s a big tall cat and barely had to stretch to dislodge it from the top of window-pane. Of course, I rescued it, carried it outside and released it onto a sheet I had hanging up to dry. Didn’t say the rhyme.
A few minutes later I was back, with my tablet, trying to shield it against the sun and compare the yellow, dotty ladybird still rambling around on my washing with the yellow, dotty ladybird on the screen. Yes, I had just rescued the Godzilla of the ladybird world. This little chap apparently eats the native British ladybird, or at least it’s larvae, also lacewings and goodness knows what else.
It began a hasty crawl towards the edge of the sheet; unmasked again.
Of course I didn’t kill it. I don’t kill anything and most especially not ladybirds. No doubt if Godzilla was rampaging through the streets of my home town I would do my best to save him too. Poor little – well, big – furry chap.