Through the years since the first definitive issue of Pitcairn stamps was released in 1940, the philately of Pitcairn Island has enjoyed a much-sought-after status among stamp collectors throughout the world.
Coccinella transversalis, commonly known as the transverse ladybird or transverse lady beetle/ladybug is a species of beetle found from India across southern and southeastern Asia to Malesia (a biogeographical region straddling the Equator and the boundaries of the Indomalaya ecozone and Australasia ecozone), Australia and into the Pacific.
When not flying, this beetle looks completely harmless but when they lift their shell and show off their large, veiny wings, this creature takes on a completely different form. The Ladybug, as it is called in many regions of the world, is an insect belonging to the beetle family. Most people can immediately recognize a ladybug by its scarlet shell with black spots, but few people know that beetle can also be yellow or even orange as ell. This is the only species found on Pitcairn Island. The most interesting thing about the ladybird, however, is certainly not its appearance, but, rather, its ability to fly and the biology of the wings on this insect.
The ladybird has a large protective shell on its back to cover up its flimsy, light wings while it is not flying. This protective shell is known as the elytra, and is actually a set of modified forewings, which open up and remain open as the ladybird flies. These forewings, however, serve no purpose in lift or thrust, and are primarily there only to protect the hindwings. The hindwings are where the flight is born. These wings, or alae, are four times the size of the ladybug itself and can move independently of each other. Each of these alae can move up and down, forward and backward. The alae are inter-laced with veins which the wings fold along when packed up inside of the elytra. Although these eings are different in the way they pack up and deploy, in function they are not unlike birds’ wings, except that the wings must beat at a much faster pace to support the ladybird in flight.
Measuring approximately 4 to 7 mm long and 3.5 to 4.5 mm wide, the transverse ladybird shows little variation across its wide range. It has a black head with predominantly bright red or orange/yellow elytra boldly marked with a black band down the midline and two lateral three-lobed markings. They like heat and in fact cannot even fly in temperatures below 55 degrees. They have been known to fly great distances just to find warmth.
Like many species of ladybirds, the transverse ladybird plays an important role in agriculture as it preys on a wide variety of plant-eating insects which damage crops, particularly early in the growing season. Among those insects hunted are many species of aphids, leafhopper, leaf and boll worms and scale insects. They are known as the farmer’s friend.
Transverse Ladybird Collectors Notes:
- Designer of the stamp: Sue Wickison, Wellington, New Zealand.
- Printer of the stamp: Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand.
- Printing process: Offset Litho.
- Stamp size: 35.00mm X 34.55mm vertical.
- Mini Sheet size: 140mm x 90mm.
- Format: Two stamps in sheet format (40 per sheet), plus two different stamps
- In a die-cut miniature sheet.
- Perforation Gauge: 14.286 x 13.895.
- Denominations: $1.00, $2.10, $3.00 and $4.60.
- Paper: 103gsm Tullis Russell Yellow/Green phosphor gummed stamp paper.
- Period of Sale: 25 October 2017 for a period of two years.
Pitcairn Stamp Issues
(Click small stamp images to see larger views.)
Below is a listing of all Pitcairn stamps issued since 1940 when Pitcairn Island began issuing its own stamps