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A volcanic flow of larva

Masses of ladybird larva have arrived in the park.

Many people have said they haven't seen many ladybirds this summer. Well it looks as though they are on their way. I noticed, while clearing some nasturtium plants that were looking the worse for wear from the orchard in the park, that they were full of blackfly. The blackfly had been able to eat and breed in peace due to the spell of hot dry weather and lack of rain to wash them away.

Then I spotted all the ladybird grubs. But after checking online I found they were not the British ladybird larva, they were the harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) larva.

The photo above are of just a few that fell from the Nasturtium plants.

Harlequin ladybirds are an invasive species which has been spreading north and west throughout the UK since it was first sighted in the south east of England in 2004. The native larvae are a paler grey than the harlequin larvae which are more spiky looking, with much longer legs.

After a female lays her eggs, they will hatch in between three and ten days, depending on ambient temperature. The larva will live and grow for about a month before it enters the pupal stage, which lasts about 15 days. After the pupal stage, the adult ladybug will live up to one year. They can eat upto 60 greenfly in a day.

The hot summer of 1976 is remembered as a particularly good year for ladybirds, with swarms of them infesting towns and cities across the UK.

The group noun for ladybirds is a "loveliness"

So it could be that very soon we will be invaded with a loveliness of ladybirds.


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