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Massive ladybird migration from Russia to gardeners' delight

There are currently unusually many ladybirds in Finland due to there being more nutrition available for them this summer. A researcher from the Finnish Environment Institute says that the flying insects are from Russia, while one entomologist calls the ladybirds a boon for gardeners.

Leppäkerttu
Ladybirds (Coccinellidae) eat aphids, which are garden pests. Image: Edward Marshall / AOP

An especially large number of ladybirds have migrated to Finland during the ongoing summer season. Senior researcher Ilpo Mannerkoski from the Finnish Environment Institute says that sightings have been made especially in coastal areas, in the eastern Bay of Bothnia, the Helsinki shoreline and the lake Saimaa region.

The swarms of ladybirds have likely made their way into Finland from neighbouring Russia. Mannerkoski says that the insects (leppäkerttu in Finnish) have gone off in search of new sources of nutrition after their food has gone scarce due to species overpopulation.

"It's highly likely that ladybirds have multiplied swiftly in Russia," Mannerkoski says. "There have probably been a lot of aphids there and balmy conditions."

Large swarms of ladybirds have taken flight and air currents have transported them to Finland.

"Ladybirds are adept at flying, but they would never make it this far without the help of the currents," Mannerkoski says.

Gardeners happy

Ladybirds are not the only insects to arrive in Finland by air current, as hoverflies and large tortoiseshell butterflies have also been sighted in droves.

"I received a report a few days ago that the Helsinki archipelago is absolutely infested with hoverflies," says entomologist Jaakko Kullberg in Helsingin Sanomat.

He says that insect exoduses are a common phenomenon, if not a yearly occurrence.

The clouds of Russian ladybirds are welcome settlers.

"The new domestic ladybird stock has not yet emerged, and I haven't seen many about. These are reinforcements," says Kullberg. "Ladybirds are predatory and mainly eat aphids, which feed on plant matter. A lot of gardeners are going to be happy about this."

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