Ladybirds to star in BBC nature campaign

Published: 20 May 2010 at 13:06

Ladybird survey 24 May-12 June gets boost from BBC Breathing Spaces

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The BBC’s annual ‘Breathing Places’ campaign launches on 24 May and this year the UK Ladybird Survey (UKLS) is its main survey.

Anglia Ruskin University’s Department of Life Sciences plays a key role in the UKLS, running the survey jointly with the University of Cambridge and the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

Running alongside BBC2’s Springwatch programmes, BBC Breathing Places was set up in 2005 to encourage people to ‘do one thing’ to help nature on their doorstep.  Since then things have grown and grown and at the last count, almost half a million people, 15 city councils and over 27,000 school children have been involved in 1381 events. The wildlife-related projects are very varied.  For example, tens of thousands of trees have been planted. Areas of land – much of it waste ground – totalling 1.4 million square metres have been transformed into wildlife-friendly areas.  Breathing Places can help with information on how to put up a bat roosting box or build a pond.

This year the target is for thousands of schools plus members of the public to get involved in carrying out surveys of ladybirds between 24 May and 12 June.  This will serve several purposes. Firstly, it will encourage children to get outdoors and look more closely at their local environment. It will help them to learn about ladybirds and to take a wider interest in insects. It will also help the UKLS by providing lots of great data. 

Delighted at the prospect of the boost to the project, Peter Brown from Anglia Ruskin University says:

"Breathing Places will provide a wonderful opportunity for children to appreciate ladybirds and their importance in the ecosystem. The data received will be extremely useful and will be used in the national ladybird atlas project, in which distributions of all 46 ladybird species in the British Isles are being mapped.  It will also assist our assessment of how native ladybird species are being negatively impacted by the invasive, non-native Harlequin ladybird."

There is even more to the Breathing Places ladybird campaign than the ladybird surveys.  For older children or people looking for a bigger challenge, there is a new survey of natural enemies of ladybirds.  People will be encouraged to spot signs of ladybird natural enemies such as parasitic wasps.  There are also related arts & crafts projects, such as how to build a ladybird winter home, plus fun extras like special ladybird Top Trumps cards and ladybird dominoes.

For more information or to register a school for the Breathing Places ladybird activities, please visit www.bbc.co.uk/breathingplaces.  Lots more information on ladybirds can be found on the UKLS website - www.ladybird-survey.org