I am quietly confident that they are native UK seven spot ladybirds. They were probably trying to find a nice place to hibernate where they will stay until re-emerging in March. The average ladybird will eat approximately five thousand aphids in a year, which is why gardeners are so fond of them. The UK has about 46 types of various sizes, colours and spottiness. The bright red or orange colours are to warn predators that they are foul tasting. If they are attacked they exude a yellow fluid containing toxic alkaloids. Despite this they are still eaten by swifts and swallows and some species of spider.
There is some concern that the native ladybirds are under threat from an invasive species known as the Harlequin. These arrived in the UK in 2004, originating from Asia. They have a wider food range and longer reproductive period than the native species and will also eat native ladybird eggs and larvae. This website helps identify the different species of ladybirds and allows for the recording of sightings of Harlequins. Regular viewers may recall an old post in which Rambling Ratz discovered a pesky harlequin ladybird larva and explained the famous poem.
Seven spot ladybirds were apparently named after the Virgin Mary, commonly known as “Our Lady”, as she was traditionally depicted in a red cloak. The seven spots represent her seven joys and seven sorrows as alluded to in medieval devotional literature, which is beyond Rambling’s remit.
As you may have guessed folklore has found a use for these colourful beetles. If one should land on your hand you should gently blow it off and quoth:
“Fly away east, fly away west,
Show me where lives the one I love best.”
Sure enough it will, or won’t, fly to your true love! They are generally considered to be bringers of luck and predictors of weather. The fact that these two were snuggled up is a sure predictor of a harsh winter to come; you have been warned.