This is my first blog, of what I hope will be many, running up to the start, during and hopefully long after my PhD. After being pestered for years by my resident Software Engineer (AKA boyfriend) to generate an online presence, I feel that now is the right time to get started. For the past 6 weeks I have been working as a voluntary researcher at the University of Stirling, looking at ladybirds and their parasitoids in the UK. As part of this, I have also been very lucky to be getting some great advice and contacts in the ladybird world. It has taken a little bit of time to get back into the swing of things after a break of about 18 months from an academic setting but so far so good and I am definitely really excited to jump into the ladybird world.
During the course of my PhD I hope to encourage more people to survey ladybird parasitoids and increase the dataset for the UK. I know that they may not have as much glamour as other insects, but hopefully with a bit of persuasion I may be able to drum up some interest. There is already a really great recording scheme going on in the UK for the ladybirds, run by Dr Helen Roy (www.ladybird-survey.org). The ladybird survey has also just released an app to make surveying easier for those with a smart phone, and I have to say it is really good and is now my recording method of choice!
It seems to me that biological recording seems to have had a bit of a boost in the past few years, with more BioBlitz and other recording days becoming more and more popular. Maybe it’s just that I have started using Twitter a bit more, but it’s great that there seems to be loads going on up and down the country. Speaking of recording days, the next one I am going to be involved in is the Open Farm Sunday pollinator survey (http://www.farmsunday.org/ofs12b/home.eb) on 9th June. This is only the second time it has been run. In 2012, 36 farms across the UK took part with 550 people recording over 16,000 insects and people were able to learn more about the importance of pollinators. It should also be a great day out for families as the farms are putting on various activities from walks to machinery displays and meeting the animals. Fingers crossed for some sunshine!