FAMILIES in Bucks, Oxon and Northants can help scientists keep track of one of Britain’s best-loved beetles in a new survey this month.
The Wallingford-based Centre for Ecology and Hydrology is creating a detailed UK ladybird map at a time of year when the insects are at their most common.
Ecologist Dr Helen Roy, who leads the UK Ladybird Survey, said: “This has been a particularly good year for some species of ladybirds, making this summer holiday an ideal opportunity for people to send in their sightings of ladybirds, preferably with a photograph, to us so we can keep track of the distribution of ladybirds.”
Families and individuals can help this month by counting and photographing ladybirds they find in their gardens, parks and fields. The information people collect will help to create detailed ladybird maps.
Several species of ladybird are being seen in particularly high numbers at the moment, including seven-spot, fourteen-spot and harlequin, prompting staff at the UK Ladybird Survey to declare the next few weeks the perfect time to get out and count.
Scientists who run the UK Ladybird Survey website are particularly interested in records of native ladybird species, the seven-spot, adonis and eleven-spot, all of which should be seen in high numbers in August, as well as the invasive non-native harlequin ladybird, which arrived in 2003 and has now spread across much of the UK countryside.
A ladybird atlas of Britain and Ireland was published in June by the UK Ladybird Survey. The team is now looking to further investigate trends and report again in five years.
By filling in some of the gaps, the team will create the most accurate picture possible for the next set of population and distribution maps. Bug hunters can submit their ladybird records via www.ladybird-survey.org.
There are 47 different species of ladybird in the UK, the UK Ladybird Survey says.
Recording the colourful little insects can help scientists assess the effects of environmental change, such as the arrival of a new species, on biodiversity.
Feedback is provided on all photographs sent in to www.ladybird-survey.org.