Smog and Buildings - Ladybird, Ladybird
Smog and Buildings
An icon of Britain’s capital, the Tower of London encapsulates nearly a thousand years of history – and has trapped a record of a thousand years of London pollution. Atmospheric chemist Peter Brimblecombe has been scraping grime from the Tower’s stone walls to see how that pollution has changed, from wood smoke, to coal to diesel, and its changing effects on the faces of London’s buildings.
Heather Viles has been doing the same to the colleges in her home city of Oxford, whose castle is also almost a thousand years old. And both say that climate changing will bring new assaults to our landmarks.
In 2004 the Harlequin Ladybird was first spotted in the UK, in the garden of a pub in Essex. First introduced into Asia and the US to control aphids, the voracious predatory species has taken hold and spread throughout those continents and now seems to be doing the same in the UK.
Already in Wales, SW England and as far north as Durham, it is expected to have reached Scotland by 2008. It is capable of out-eating its competitors, turning cannibal on native species of ladybird, and infesting your home in swarms in the winter.
And Mike Majerus of Cambridge University - who helped set up the monitoring programme linked below, thinks it will lead to the loss of some 1000 other interdependent species from our shores altogether.
Why is it so voracious? How has it spread so quickly? And can anything be done to halt it? Mike and his PhD student Remy Ware from the evolutionary genetics group at the University of Cambridge seek to answer those questions and also describe how you might be able to help track the spread.