For example: a casual glance at a Cherry Laurel shrub yesterday brought a couple of ladybirds to my attention.
Harlequin Ladybirds in copula. Daventry
It might appear that two species of ladybird are mating, but of course it is nothing of the sort. The Harlequin Ladybird, is extremely variable and, although in this instance the male is fundamentally black with spots and the female has a ground colour of brick-red with apparently a dozen or more black markings, they are both Harmonia axyrida. It is an unwelcome but well-established alien - but that is another story.
A little further on and I casually passed my net through a birch tree and out came another pair of mating insects - spring had definitely arrived! Ladybirds are of course beetles and some shieldbugs can have vaguely beetle-like appearance (although there are numerous significant differences).
This was a pair of Parent Bugs, Elasmucha grisea. Their common name derives from the fact that when danger threatens the tiny offspring will creep under their mother's body until the threat has passed. The mouthparts of bugs are modified to form a sort of drinking straw and Parent Shieldbugs imbibe the sugar-rich phloem from birch or alder trees. (Aphids are also bugs.)
|Parent Bugs in cop. Daventry 19.v.2016|