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News article created on 6 July 2016

Wettest June on record has impact on waterway wildlife

Ladybirds are one of the prettiest beetle species, they are also among farmers’ and gardeners’ best friends with the ability to eat up to 5,000 aphids in their short life. Having just faced the wettest June on record, however, the ladybirds of Britain are facing a difficult time, with many recently-hatched larvae likely to have been washed away.

Ladybird sat on leaf Ladybird

We are warning that the recent wet weather could have a big impact upon much of the country’s wildlife and are asking people to help monitor all wildlife they see as part of our Great Nature Watch campaign. 

As the school summer holidays start, getting out to spot nature is a really fun, healthy and free activity to do with children of all ages. Ladybird larvae are particularly interesting to spot – looking almost like small alligators, the larvae have long tails, bumpy skin and are dark in colour, not at all attractive like their adult form.

  • Ladybirds face decline in population after month of heavy rain
  • Water voles, dragonflies and bats among other species threatened by the weather
  • Public encouraged to ‘Stop, Look and Listen’ and take part in our annual Great Nature Watch and test their own nature know-how

Another species likely to be affected by June’s unseasonably wet weather is dragonfly larvae (or nymphs).  Fluctuating river levels and fast currents are known to wash away dragonfly larvae and as they live underwater for up to three years, the recent heavy rain may also have a long-term effect on the population. The larvae also need warm, still and sunny weather to emerge and if they don’t, the following year’s population will be significantly reduced.

Hot July and August

Peter Birch, national environment manager explains: “A month of heavy rain can have both a negative and positive impact on different wildlife. If we have a hot July and August, much of the negative impact will be offset, but if we continue to have a wet summer the effects on some wildlife could be a lot more long-term.”

Additionally, species such as birds, butterflies, bees and bats do not fly in heavy rain and it could impact upon the amount of food they forage for themselves and their young.

Water voles

The weather may also affect water voles, Britain’s fastest declining mammal. Too much rain increases the level of the water table and can flood their burrows. On a positive note, the higher water table does provide better habitats for frogs and toads. 

Peter Birch continues: “Canals and rivers provide a fantastic nature reserve right on your doorstep and they’re free. By taking part in our Great Nature Watch you can not only increase your own nature know-how by spotting and listening to a wide variety of wildlife but help us monitor the numbers of species living on our waterways, which is essential when looking after and maintaining a 200 year old part of our industrial history.”

Wildlife sightings can be submitted by downloading the Trust’s free mobile app: eNatureWatch (or search Canal & River Trust in the Apple App Store /Google Play Store). Anyone can take part and record as many sightings as they like between now and the end of September.