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I only have moment to spare today, so I thought I’d share a life and death moment from the garden.

The fearsomely-spiked creature photographed above is the larva of a ladybird (that is, a beetle of the family Coccinellidae), specifically the New Zealand and Australian native species Apolinus lividigaster. It’s meal is an ahpid, though I couldn’t tell you which species.

Learning that ladybirds are vicious predators (adults have more or less that same tastes as their larvae) might go some way to undermine ladybirds’ status as a “cute” insect that escapes the “yuck” reaction so many of their kin seem to evoke. But it’s worth remembering that ladybirds are very useful. Most species specialise in eating plant-sucking insects like aphids and scales, and so can be a boon to gardeners. On a larger scale, predatory ladybirds are often introduced as “biological” control to help keep pest numbers low.