Friday, 8 January 2010

Ladybird, ladybird

I've been painting the bedroom. So you can tell how snowed in we are. I can't do anything outside, I can't really go anywhere, everything's frozen solid, so I'm reduced to interior decor.

Anyway, I was getting on pretty well, when I noticed that this little group of ladybirds had taken up residence in the corner of the windowframe.  So I painted all up to and around them, but they didn't look like moving. I wondered if I should disturb them, but didn't have the heart to just chuck them out on the snow, maybe I could leave them and come back with a small pot of touch up paint in May when they've gone?

It's not unusual for ladybirds to be around here in winter, indeed they hibernate in our window frames every year at this house, something I've never seen anywhere else I've lived. Clearly they like it here so I decided I would leave them. I'm very keen on ladybirds,  - I'm quite convinced that the very rare appearance of aphids in the garden is at least partially thanks to a healthy population of ladybirds, whose favourite food is greenfly. So I'm perfectly happy to let them hibernate in the window frames for the winter, where they do no damage whatsoever. And it's lovely to see them all on a warm spring day beginning to stir and gradually wandering off.

But then another thought occured to me. Are these ladybirds our native British ones or are they the dreaded Harlequin ladybird from Europe which has been spotted all over the UK in the last few years, and has a voracious appetite and a tendency to eat our native species. And if they are Harlequins what should I do about them? Should I get out the Flit spray and the Dyson? Not really, but after a brief perusal of internet wildlife sites I was non the wiser really, so taking my life in my hands in the sub zero temperatures, I opened the bedroom windows  to check the usual hibernation areas and there they all were cosily tucked up in the window frames fast asleep. Hundreds of them.

As far as I can tell they are a mixture of Harlequins and native two spot ladybirds, which seems odd to me, but  I suppose I will just leave them to it as usual, and hope for the best. If anyone out there is a ladybird expert and can tell me for sure which they are and what if anything I should do I'd love to know.


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