Swarms of ladybirds plague Norfolk coast

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The Independent Online

Hordes of ladybirds have swamped cars, plants and homes after the biggest boom in their numbers for over 30 years.

Residents in Norfolk have found themselves wading through "many millions" of the insects after the local coccinellida population "exploded" across the county's northern coast.

Extra money has been made available for council roadsweepers to clean up of piles of corpses that have "carpeted" the worst affected areas.

Brendan Joyce, director of the North Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: "Around the coast, the numbers of ladybirds are phenomenal. I've heard stories of people sweeping huge heaps out of shop doorways. It's been quite spectacular."

Marilyn Humphrey, of the North Norfolk Information Centre in Cromer, added: "They land on every part of your body. In your face and eyes. It's horrible."

The surge in ladybird numbers is the result of the warm weather throughout July, which has led to an abundance of aphids, a favourite food of ladybirds. Swarms have also been reported as far west as Somerset. Ladybirds lay around 1,000 eggs at a time. Zoe Bunter, from the insect charity Buglife, said: "Ladybirds feed on aphids – greenfly and blackfly – and they've done very well due to the consistently mild weather. Because aphids are food for ladybirds, the ladybirds are taking advantage of that, which is why there's such a large population."

While they are an irritation to people, the swarms are good for gardens. Ms Bunter said: "These are amazing animals that do an amazing job for us. They eat all our pests."