A LADYBIRD PLAGUE ON THE EAST COAST by
BARON DE W O R M S
W H E N I visited the Southwold and Walberswick areas during the first week in August, 1961, Prof. J. V. Dacie who was staying in the vicinity described to me the phenomenal number of Ladybirds he had seen on the local beaches during the last ten days of July. When I was on the beach at Walberswick with him and his family on 6th August, I was able to see for myself the very large numbers of these creatures crawling everywhere to become a general nuisance to people enjoying the amenities of the seaside. I was Struck by the variety of species and with the aid of Prof. Dacie and one of his small sons, collected quite a large number of as many kinds as we could distinguish. These I subsequently submitted to Mr. E. D. Pope, the leading authority at the British Museum (Natural History). He very kindly divided them up into no less than eight species of which the commonest seemed to be Anatis ocellata, L., and Harmonia A-punctata Pontopp. The other six species collected included Adalia \0-punctata, L., Adalia bipunctata, L., Coccinella 1-punctata, L., C. W-punctata, L., C. hieroglyphica, L., and Neomysia oblongoguttata, L. Quite a lot appeared in the local press at the time and it was suggested that there had been a huge immigration of these insects of which there have been a good many previous records in the past, but Mr. E. A. Ellis, that eminent authority on the fauna of the Eastern Counties, is by no means convinced of this. He is of the opinion that, though some of the prodigious numbers of ladybirds seen all along the Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk coasts this summer as in other years may have emanated from Holland and North Germany, the majority probably bred on the spot, as he observed great numbers of the adults Coming out of hibernation and also even a greater quantity of their larvae in late June this year when the aphids on which they feed were plentiful, but when these became scarce, the larvae began cannibalising each other. It is apparently quite a common phenomenon to see these insects assembled on the seashore where they are brought down from a height by the effect of the sea breezes.