Tens of millions of ladybirds are swarming areas of Britain, causing people to run inside their homes to escape. The ‘cute’ red and black two-spotted and seven-spotted insects are on a mission for food and some are reported to even be biting humans.
Warm conditions are said to be the reason for the winged invasion at the seaside resort of Cromer, Norfolk, leaving families running for cover. The ladybirds managed to fly over to nearby Bacton-on-Sea, causing holidaymakers to shut themselves inside to avoid a ladybird collision.
And it wasn’t only Norfolk – an estimated 10 million ladybirds descended on Chard, Somerset, covering every inch of a 20-acre farm. The glut in aphids, the ladybirds’ favourite food, has caused the thick blanket of the bugs, which is the largest since the summer of 1976.
However, bug-phobics shouldn’t panic, as according to the charity Buglife the swarm is a good thing. “Although people might be disturbed by the huge numbers of ladybirds, they are the two-spot and seven-spot variety which are native to this country,” explains Zoe Bunter. “These have been under threat from harlequin ladybirds which were introduced to Europe as a pest control and then came over to the UK.”
The bug invasion doesn’t stop at the ladybirds – the wasp population is also said to have grown due to warm conditions in the UK, leaving one mum with 40 stings.
Amanda Libot, 33 and her 2-year-old son Jared accidentally disturbed a nest in Bedfordshire, and were attacked by a swarm of wasps, resulting in a total of 55 stings between them. “It was like something out of a horror movie. I was peeling wasps of Jared’s face,” Amanda told the Daily Mail.
The rise in wasps is because of the warm weather the UK has experienced throughout spring and summer, which provides perfect breeding conditions. Wasps also feed on aphids. Hornet wasp colonies reach their peak population in the late summer months and can contain up to 700 large – rather angry- insects. Wasps nests are even larger, housing up to 10,000.
- The name ladybird has been commonly used for centuries and was a reference to the Virgin Mary, because in paintings she was often wearing a red cloak.
- According to an old wives tale – they can be used to predict the weather. If one falls off your hand, it will rain. If it flies away, conditions will be fine.
- Many people don’t realise that we have so many different ladybirds living in Britain: 46 species. Not all of them are brightly coloured and spotty.
- Ladybirds refuse to fly if it’s below 12.7C (55F).
- Ladybirds beat their wings 84 times a second when flying