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Posts Tagged ‘british ladybirds’

Is it me or are there suddenly a lot of Ladybirds, when I bring in the washing I unknowingly bring in with it a couple of these delightful insects, I also found a Ladybird larvae on the washing machine, they are grey and grub like and not very pretty to look at, they don’t resemble a Ladybird and if you didn’t know what they are you might be tempted to squash them.

Ladybird Larvae

Ladybird larvae

In Britain there are 46 species of Ladybirds, 19 species are dull in appearance and do not look at all like the familiar brightly coloured spotted ones that we all love, the 17 spotted varieties have different colour variations, orange with black spots, black with orange spots, white with black spots, yellow with black spots or brown with white spots and also different numbers of spots 2, 7, 11, 14, 18, 16, 22 and 24.

So why are there suddenly a lot of ladybirds?

They are this years newly hatched Ladybirds, during August they emerge from their pupae and then feed up on lots of aphids to build up their reserves to see them through the Winter months (October-February) when they go into a dormant state. In March-April they will emerge and search for food (aphids), the male and female then mate and the female will lay up to 40 eggs during June-July these are bright yellow and can often be found on the underside of leaves, they hatch within 4-10 days and over the following 3-6 weeks the larvae feed on aphids and grow fast shedding their skin 3 or 4 times before attaching to a stem/leaf and becoming a pupae, during the next two weeks the pupae changes dramatically and emerges as a Ladybird in August.

Ladybird Pupae

Ladybird Pupae

Ladybirds are great for the garden the Seven Spot Ladybird can eat 5,000 aphids in its year-long life span so as well as being beautiful they are a true gardener’s friend and worth looking after, unfortunately some native UK Ladybirds species are in decline. During September Ladybirds are feeding up and looking for a safe, dry place to spend the winter why not put some Ladybird and Insect Towers around your garden, each one has a hollow centre filled with straw which provides insulation and drilled holes to allow the Ladybirds access to the inner chamber, place them somewhere warm and sheltered either amongst the flowers, in a wooded area or even in a planter.

Wildlife World Ladybird and Insect Tower

Ladybird and Insect Tower

The collective name for a group of Ladybirds is a ‘loveliness’, I cannot think of anything more fitting.

Love your environment

Gill

 

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Last week I managed to get on my allotment, it was Mother’s Day to be precise, the weather was glorious and the birds were singing – it was perfect! My first job was to tidy up and weed the beds now that they have dried out sufficiently I was delighted to find lots and lots of Ladybirds which have successfully survived our mild winter this is great news but unfortunately our native Ladybirds are under threat from another Ladybird, it is called the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) and is the most invasive Ladybird on earth, arriving in Britain in the Summer of 2004, it is originally from Asia and was introduced to North America in 1988 and then Europe as a biological pest control where it has now widespread.

Group of harlequin (succinea) ladybirds

Photograph from the UK Ladybird Survey website showing Harlequin Ladybirds

In Britain we have 46 species of Ladybirds although 19 of these are not recognisable as Ladybirds as they are not bright coloured or Spotty. The Harlequin Ladybird has over 100 different colour pattern variations making it very hard to identify, one of the easiest ways to recognize it is by its size it can measure 5-8mm in length which is larger than most of our native Ladybirds the best way to accurately identify it is to have a good Ladybird guide. The problem with the Harlequin Ladybirds is that instead of producing a single generation of young per year like our native species they can produce two or more, a single female can lay over a thousand eggs. Harlequin Ladybirds have a more varied diet and larger appetite and will eat the eggs and larvae of butterflies and moths, small insects and alarmingly other Ladybirds as well as their staple diet of aphids.

How can we help?

The spread of the Harlequin Ladybird in Britain is being closely monitored through the Harlequin Ladybird Survey www.harlequin-survey.org who would like Schools, Groups and members of the public to send in their sightings of Harlequin Ladybirds, this can be done through their website or by post, there is even an app available to download with a guide to help you to identify Ladybirds and then to report your sightings. If you find any type of Ladybird you can send in your sighting as above to the UK Ladybird Survey www.ladybird-survey.org who will use your information to help the conservation of all our British Ladybirds.

This Easter (and as often as you can) why not go on a Ladybird hunt in your garden, local park, on a walk or on holiday and send in your sightings to www.harlequin-survey.org or www.ladybird-survey.org, you could take a photograph of them or even draw a picture when you get home, everyone loves Ladybirds especially children.

Happy Hunting

Gill

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Over the Bank Holiday weekend we managed to get away in the caravan to Bolton-le-Sands. We took the Bird Feeders with us but unfortunately we were pitched in the centre of a field away from trees and hedges. The weather was glorious sunny days and cold nights with a hard frost on Friday and Saturday night reminding us that although we are in May we still need to be vigilant and protect any tender plants or blossoms with Fleece and Cloches. We had a walk on the coast which was grassy salt marsh with saltwater pools and mudflats which are teaming with food for birds this makes it the most important estuary in Britain for its seabird and waterfowl populations and attracts the third largest number of wintering wildfowl in Britain. Morecambe Bay is unique and is a designated Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Wetland of International Importance and a designated European Marine Site (Ems).

The Rockpool Guide

We took our fishing nets, a couple of buckets and our Rockpool Guide (a very handy, waterproof 6 page leaflet which makes identifying Shells, Anemones, Seaweed, Crabs etc. very easy) we caught a few crabs, some Brown shrimps and some tiny fish in the pools. The tide was on its way in so we went to the waters edge and started fishing again but this time we were catching Ladybirds! Floating on the surface of the water there were hundreds of Ladybirds amongst the seaweed and debris, they must have been on the grassy salt marsh and got caught by the incoming tide. We rescued as many as we could but soon realised that they would probably be alright as the tide does comes in twice a day, everyday, but we had fun!

Fishing for Ladybirds

Rescued Ladybirds

Next stop was the RSPB’s Nature Reserve at Leighton Moss it’s the largest reedbed in the north-west and a haven for many species of birds and is my son Thomas’s favourite place. We went well prepared with a pencil, wildlife diary, binoculars and our Guide to Wetland Birds (a 12 page guide featuring 49 common wetland birds) which was invaluable and we managed to spot most of the birds on it. One species of bird that we saw which wasn’t on the guide was an Osprey and we were lucky to see not one but three, one of which was carrying a fish in its claws, another rare visitor we spotted was a Glossy Ibis a dark brown long-legged wading bird more commonly found in Southern Europe these were the highlight of the day and the weekend.

Guide to Wetland Birds

When I get back to the office I shall have to invest in a Guide to Ladybirds of the British Isles so that we can identify which one of the 46 Ladybird species found in the British Isles we rescued and have a look at the other Wildlife Guides that we stock too, they are very child friendly and easy to use with lovely illustrations, making them perfect for every little wildlife enthusiast.

Guide to Ladybirds of the British Isles

So get out there wildlife spotting you don’t need to be in a nature reserve to find something unusual they could be just around the corner or even in your back garden.

Enjoy your environment

Gill

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