What is a ‘symbiotic relationship’?
A symbiotic relationship is any mutually beneficial relationship between different species that rely on each other for survival.
Bees and flowers are a great example of a symbiotic relationship – both the flowers and the bees get something useful out of connecting; the bees get pollen, and the flowers get to make sure that their seeds spread around!
In Christchurch Park, there are lots of creatures and plants that rely on each other for shelter, food, and the ability to mate.
Whether or not they are all beneficial, or parasitic (where only one side of the party is getting all the benefits), is something that our research is continuing to do.
Lady birds using one specific Monkey Puzzle Tree in Christchurch Park.
Is it for protection against predators, food, somewhere to lay eggs, or all of the above?
We’re trying to find out!
Like most people growing up in England, the site of a red lady bird is very common, as they crawl along a leaf or branch.
But, I hadn’t ever seen dozens of ladybirds nestled in the crevices of a Monkey Puzzle Tree before, until I was taking close-up photos of one of the branches (I love the patterns these trees create!) and noticed a ladybird. The more I looked, the more ladybirds I saw, until I could count a few dozen!
I visit Christchurch Park often, walking my dog there a few times a week.
Here is some information from my observations:
1. The ladybirds only nestle in one specific Monkey Puzzle Tree in the park, despite other Monkey Puzzle Tree’s being close by (The tree they are in is in Section X on the map, and W3W_______)
2. They only seem to nestle on one side of the tree (the side facing the direction of the bandstand, which is toward the sun.)
3. Never seem to nestle in a group; there are usually only one or two together
4. Each lady bird seems to take up one leaf
5. They seem to nestle deeply into each branch, close to the stem and at the very base of each leaf (making them hard to spot!)
Why do ladybirds do this? There is obviously some benefit(s), but through sporadic observation alone, this is not clear.
How often do the ladybirds do this, and is this a seasonal behaviour?
Is there a benefit for the Monkey Puzzle Tree, to welcome these small residents?