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Summer Visitors

Ladybird  Copyright 2007 Christopher Johnstone

Insect-wise it's turning out to be an interesting summer.  It's mostly due to that spell of hot weather we had at the beginning of the season which provided just the right conditions for aphids and the other tiny critters at the lower end of the food chain.  While this may not be great news for gardeners, it's boom time for ladybirds.

Hot Spots

Ladybirds  Copyright 2009 Tug Wilson

So attractive is this abundance of food that ladybirds from continental Europe have started arriving in their thousands.  Norfolk has seen ladybirds arriving in plague proportions.  People there are comparing it to the last time it happened back in the hot summer of 1976.

Four Billion Wings

Of course it's not just ladybirds arriving from overseas.  Earlier in the year we saw thousands of Painted Lady butterflies entering the UK from Africa.

Painted Lady Butterfly  Copyright 2009 G. Bradley

Those butterflies have now had their offspring and conservationists estimate there will be a billion of them flying around these islands over the next few weeks.  How do they know that?  Apparently they count the number of wings and then divide the total figure by four.  Judging by the number of Painted Lady photos I've received this week they're probably right.

Imitation Hornets

Other species flying in now include some extraordinary hoverflies.  The one which always raises most interest is known simply as the 'Belted Hoverfly'.

Belted Hoverfly  Copyright 2005 G. Bradley

As names go its quite appropriate, but then most hoverflies could easily be labelled 'belted' as they have belts, bands or stripes around their bodies. I'm sure if it had been named by one of those Victorian pastors who thought up all those wonderful names for our moths, they'd have come up with a far more interesting title.  The reason they didn't is because this is a fairly new species to the UK, and wasn't seen here back in Victorian times.

People often feel a bit uneasy near them because of their similarity to the hornet.  They even make a low pitched buzzing sound to add to the effect.  Like other hoverflies they're harmless to us, which is just as well as they're already well settled in southern England.

UK Safari News

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