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A loveliness of ladybirds on Huelin promenade in Malaga city. Sur
Ladybird season is upon us in Malaga: why are these insects so beneficial?
Nature

Ladybird season is upon us in Malaga: why are these insects so beneficial?

With westerly offshore winds blowing throughout the week, many of these small beetles are expected to show up in Malaga city and along the coast

Ignacio Lillo

Monday, 13 May 2024, 19:26

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Ladybird season is definitely here in Malaga province, not because it happens at a fixed time every year, rather because it depends on wind direction in springtime. The weather forecast for this week is ideal for a proliferation of these small beetles in to appear in some parts of Malaga city and along the Costa del Sol.

Why? Simply because the westerly and offshore winds that are expected to blow for most of the week will easily scoop up these very light, flying insects from inland rural areas and drop them on land much nearer the coast. Strong gusts are expected from today, so they are more likely to appear.

Ladybirds should be treated with respect and, as far as possible, remain unharmed. In any case, if they land on windows, terraces or balconies, it is best to relocate them to greenery, preferably trees or bushes. These animals are very beneficial for the flora in urban environments because they help to control pests, especially aphid as the principal constituent of their diet. Moreover, they pose absolutely no danger to people.

This is an annual, recurring phenomenon, usually occurring at the beginning of spring after a sudden rise in temperatures. It is most notable when a strong westerly wind blows, which tosses these tiny insects around so they crash land on our windows.

April 2020 (during the pandemic lockdown) witnessed the last major outbreak when thousands of them invaded the terraces and balconies along large stretches of the coastal parts of Malaga city and neighbouring towns such as Rincón de la Victoria and Torremolinos. Before this instance, there was another one in 2012, according to SUR's press archives.

Ladybirds belong to the coccinellidae family of insects and hatch out for a very short life, lasting a couple of weeks. They are not considered a pest because they are harmless both to humans and the environment. It is therefore a good sign if you see trees full of them, because it means that they are gorging on the aphids that could have damaged those trees.

In fact, they are commonly bred in captivity and used as a natural, organic, pest control for agriculture and gardening. They are also useful for the reproduction of plants and for feeding birds and reptiles. In Malaga province there are some 50 different varieties and popular tradition considers them to be a highly beneficial beetle, which is why they have always been so highly respected by countryfolk. Their affection for this insect is reflected in the many traditional games played by children in Spain that feature the ladybird. Even the collective noun for ladybirds is quite charming: a loveliness of ladybirds.

Attention all hayfever and asthma sufferers

Jesús Riesco, director of Aemet (Spain's weather agency), reminds us that for these next few days "everything inland will end up in Malaga, because the wind will blow from north (inland) to south."

With the windy weather in mind, we must flag up another phenomenon that is dangerous and will greatly affect allergy and asthma sufferers this week: pollen, especially from the olive trees, although that is not the only one to worry about.

"I recommend all those with allergies to wear a mask and sunglasses for these windy days, because very high pollen counts are expected, thanks to the olive trees having blossomed a lot with the last rains," warns José Luis Escudero, a local expert on the weather in Malaga.

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