The Watercress Way Children’s Trail – A ladybird is not just for Christmas!!

Christmas Ladybird Trail

Do you know the answers to these questions?

Where did ladybirds get their name from? Why won’t you see ladybirds at Christmas? Why are ladybirds called The Gardeners Best Friend? How long do they live? An outdoor quiz/treasure trail The answers to these questions will be found by the latest online quiz which can be downloaded from The Watercress Way’s website and completed by anyone in their own time out in our beautiful countryside just NE of Winchester.

The trustees have devised a trail especially for families around the 27 miles of The Watercress starting in time for Christmas holidays. Initially 13 ladybird lodges are to be hunted down at Christmas. 27 will eventually be installed, to reflect the length of the trail and the number of common native UK ladybird species plus the invasive brightly coloured Harlequin.

The lodges were inspired by The Natural History Museum’s template and will carry on as a lasting project. They will be tucked away discreetly in the undergrowth next to the old railway track beds, next to sparkling chalk rivers, in some of the housing estates and recreation parks along the Way. Groups of lodges will be sited within an easy walk from a carpark or bus stop, and many suitable for buggies and disabled vehicles.

The serious part
The trustees hope to raise awareness of the Watercress Way’s ecological diversity, so the ladybird species to be found at each lodge are characteristic of that habitat. The lodges are made from recycled materials: old tiles, and fallen fir cones, twigs and leaves. Perhaps people will be inspired to make their own for their garden! A happy but useful conservation project for the winter holidays, even if the lodges may not get new residents until next autumn.

Hence the strapline: A ladybird is not just for Christmas!
To find out where they are, download the pdf of sites and identification chart from the website. A small donation online would help the charity’s projects for 2021, which include improving disabled access to the old Watercress Line at Martyr Worthy.

The charity is delighted at the support shown by all the landowners contacted including HCC, Forestry England, Gratton Trust, Kings Worthy PC and Alresford TC, The Watercress Line, St Johns Church and The Bush pub . A big thanks to other organisations and many individuals helping source the materials for the ladybird lodges including Winchester Magazine and Hilliers Arboretum

• Perhaps make your own ladybird house in your garden: How to make a bug hotel: a ladybird lodge | Natural History Museum (nhm.ac.uk)

• The identification chart used The Woodland Trust. Ladybird identification for kids – Nature Detectives (treetoolsforschools.org.uk)

• For more details see UK Ladybird Survey | UK Beetle Recording (coleoptera.org.uk) • The Field Studies Council has wildlife fold out sheets, holidays, courses Wildlife Shop – Field Studies Council (field-studies-council.org)

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