Daily Archives: 18/06/2008

A visit with Vanessa

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This week I was lucky to meet-up with my daughter Vanessa for a couple of days.

We did something I longed to do for a long time, in fact two things, one, to take a guided bus ride around London to see the sights, and two, go on the London Eye.

Although I think I have seen most of London, living and working in the area for some years, I have discovered what I know bit by bit, and perhaps, well I know, missed a lot.

I was well pleased with the quality of service provided by The Original London Transport Sightseeing Tour, which included a river Thames cruise to Greenwich, the place where East meets West, the Greenwich Meridian Line.

Another longing I wanted was to go on the London Eye sitting on the River Thames, the London Eye is a unique, rising high above London’s skyline at 135 metres. Creating the tallest observation wheel in the world.

Having had a great phobia of heights, which was taken away by a good friend and fellow NLPer, John Brown, but I had really never had a good challenge to test it out.

It worked.

he houses of Parliament from the London Eye The houses of Parliament from the London Eye

                            Vanessa Holt on the London Eye Vanessa holt on the London Eye

                                                London Eye Pods high over London London Eye Pods high over London

Ladybirds the Answer

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I wrote about some strange ladybirds (click to read) I came across outside the home here in Norbiton Hall.

Norbiton Hall, Kingston upon Thames, the hedgerow where the Harlequin ladybirds were found
Norbiton Hall, Kingston upon Thames, the hedgerow where the Harlequin ladybirds were found

After some research and people giving me information, I now know that these ladybirds are called Harlequin Ladybirds, part of the Coccinellidae family and they take the name Harmonia axyridis, the most invasive ladybird on Earth.

Harlequin Ladybirds,  Harmonia axyridis
Harlequin Ladybirds,  Harmonia axyridis

It appears that they can take-on many guises or patterns, and I have seen a few on the hedgerow outside the apartments, but when I go to get my camera, by the time I get back, they have gone.

Harlequin Ladybird with standard colour and spots  Harlequin Ladybird with no spots and pupa behind

Halequin Ladybird black with yellow spots  Halequin Ladybird black with yellow spots
Harlequin ladybird in different guises patterns and colours

The Harlequin emerges from the pupa, and leaves the shell behind as per the picture above with the Harlequin Ladybird without any spots.

Harlequin ladybird pupa
Harlequin ladybird pupa

The larva is such a strange insect, the likes I had never seen before.

Harlequin ladybird larva  Harlequin ladybird larva
Harlequin ladybird larva

These Harlequin ladybirds arrived in the UK only a few years ago, in 2004, and are spreading rapidly throughout the UK, including Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2007.

They are native of Eastern Asia, and were introduced into the rest of the world, as a biological control agent against aphid and scale infestations. 

Although probably not introduced into the UK as a control, they may have found their way by hitching a ride on the new EuroStar train service from mainland Europe, through the Channel Tunnel or via the many cut flowers imported from Holland.

Concerns about the Harlequin Ladybirds are that they are more aggressive to the British native species, and being that they like buildings, people find their homes invaded.