Sunshine brings a ladybird invasion

Ladybird.
Ladybird.

THE weekend’s warm weather saw hundreds head to the beach to enjoy the sunshine, but they weren’t the only visitors. Thousands of ladybirds have also been making their way to the seaside thanks to a ‘massive increase in population’.

Mablethorpe and Sutton on Sea beach-goers were reported to have been inundated with ‘seven-spot’ ladybirds which experts say is due to the warm weather bringing in an abundance of food in the form of aphids, or greenflies.

One Mablethorpe resident said: “It was totally unbearable up on the seafront on Sunday with people brushing the ladybirds off in their hundreds!”

The last infestation came in 1976, when a similarly dry summer saw swarms of ladybirds appearing due to a marked increase of aphids. When the food supply ran out there were reports of people being bitten, but the bright colours are designed to ward off predators and not to show that they are poisonous.

Rachel Shaw of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust said: “There are large numbers of ladybirds all along the Lincolnshire coast at the moment. They are seven-spot ladybirds. These ‘explosions’ in the ladybird population do occasionally occur at this time of year.

“Ladybirds eat aphids or greenfly. Warm weather conditions are good for greenfly, creating an abundant food source for ladybirds so their population increases. Seven-spot ladybirds can eat more than 5,000 aphids during their year-long life.

“The thousands of ladybirds on the coast indicate that these beetles have arrived here from the continent. Presumably because there has been a massive increase in the population.”

Thanks to the warming UK climate; nature enthusiasts can also look out for jellyfish, leatherback turtles and hairy crabs on our coastline this summer.

l Have you spotted some of the ladybirds? Send your stories and pictures to sam.kinnaird@jpress.co.uk. Or follow us on Twitter @louthleadernews.