Thursday, 14 May 2020
The plant and the ladybird
One of the pleasures of being - or at least attempting to be - an all-round naturalist is that you tend to nose around at anything and everything as you idly wander. In doing so you can be handsomely rewarded. This afternoon I went on a 'birding stroll', (I'm still adhering to local lockdown and not driving anywhere.) I found myself at Park Downs, Banstead, a delightful place that has a fine fauna and flora. It is also peaceful, one of my bolt-holes. As I wandered down the edge of a field I noticed several plants of White Bryony starting to unfurl across the path and into the hedgerow. My eye was drawn to a distinctively coloured insect, the unmistakable browny-red of the Bryony Ladybird. And there were more, all resting on the leaves of its food plant and a quick check of the other plants by the path revealed at least 12 insects on show. There could have been many more but I didn't want to disturb them by checking underneath the leaves.
This species was not recorded in the UK until 1997 and has settled quite happily in the London area (particularly Surrey) with outlying records from Oxford and Coventry. May is a particularly good month to observe them, so it is well worth checking any White Bryony plants (photos attached for reference if you do not know it). They are easy to find in my area, but I do not take them for granted, and have grown quite fond of them.