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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wed 9th Dec 2009 - Carisbrooke Primary School.

A new site for us at Carisbrooke Primary School, and fortunately the weather was a huge improvement on last week with the excellent turnout of volunteers enjoying some good dry weather, if somewhat soggy underfoot. Our work area was behind the school next to a public footpath, and our tasks were to cut back some of the trees in the woodland, remove a large tree which had fallen down following the recent wet weather, and use the material to construct some habitat piles within the wood.

Our biggest task was to clear a pond (which was completely unrecognisable), and remove any ash and sycamore round the edges. Underneath all the weeds and ivy not only did we find a lovely concrete pond, but also uncovered a fairly large area of decking to one side and leading out of the access gate (see images).

Carrie’s Nature Lesson

This week’s find was a selection of three different types of harlequin ladybirds, which fall into three main types - succinea, spectabilis and conspicua. The most likely variations encountered in the UK have orange wing covers and 15-21 black spots, or black wing covers with two or four orange or red spots; they are also larger than our native ladybirds. They are an Asiatic species introduced to Europe as a biological control agent, and have now invaded much of north western Europe, arriving in Britain in the summer of 2004.

They are most commonly found on deciduous trees, such as lime, sycamore and maple, and low growing plants such as nettles. Their food range is wide and includes aphids, scale insects, eggs and larvae of butterflies and moths together with other small insects including our own native ladybirds. Its impact is considerable, as it easily out-competes our native species for their preferred food, and its lack of a dormant period prior to breeding and having a longer active period, gives it a further competitive edge on our native species.

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