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Wednesday, 5 August 2009

LADYBIRDS OF PLAGUE PROPORTIONS







Hi Lee,

The ladybird invasion here is really quite unbelievable and it’s quite a sad sight to see so many dead and dying amongst the millions of live ones. The difference in numbers between the immediate coastal strip and my garden - I live just over 1 mile from the sea – is quite incredible with the numbers dropping by perhaps 99%+. They are nearly all 7-spots with much less of 2-spots and 14-spots. I’ve seen a couple of Harlequins Harmonia axyridis amongst them too, one each of the variations conspicua and succinea, the former a really smart insect despite their alleged potential as a threat to up to 1,000 species of native British wildlife. I’m not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination but I’ve attached 3 photos that might give some idea of the scene. They were taken along the cliff top a few hundred yards east of Happisburgh village; the whole of the cliff top path is littered with them as are the crops and natural vegetation in a quite narrow coastal strip. It’s also been a fantastic summer so far for butterflies with higher numbers than I have seen for many years of Painted Lady, Large White, Ringlet and Meadow Brown. I’ve even seen a wandering Dark Green Fritillary near the village and a single Clouded Yellow on a nice patch of Red Clover along the cliff. I’m now waiting for the predicted explosion in Painted Lady numbers and crossing my fingers for a Camberwell Beauty...(James R Appleton, Happisburgh, Norfolk)