A rare species of ladybird has been rediscovered breeding in the UK for the first time in nearly 60 years.
The breeding population of 13-spot ladybirds were found in the Axe Estuary Wetlands in Devon by a student. Sporadic sightings have been recorded since 1952, but not of the species breeding.
“As soon as I saw the larva I was fairly sure it was a 13-spot – it’s something I’ve dreamt of finding,” said Richard Comont, the PhD student who made the discovery. The insect was found during a “Bioblitz” event,where the public works with scientists to record all the insect species in an area.
James Chubb, education ranger for East Devon district council, said: “With the experts we had on the day I knew that we would find loads of really interesting and unusual creatures, but never for a second did I think we’d make a discovery of this magnitude.”
The 13-spot ladybird lives in wetlands and is believed to have re-colonised Britain from the Channel Islands or France.
“It is a rare bit of good news for British ladybirds,” said Comont. A census published in June showed one fifth of native British species of ladybird were declining due to competition from invasive species such as the Asian harlequin ladybird, which is larger and breeds faster.