Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Harlequin Ladybirds

Am far from an insect person but I have been asked a few questions about Harlequin Ladybirds recently so I thought I would read up on them and put the following short article together.

Man upsets the natural balance again.

The Harlequin Ladybird is one of the most invasive species on planet earth.

They are very variable in their patterning and can be relatively easy to identify but some can be difficult to separate from some native species.

It was introduced from Asia to North America as a biocontrol species against Aphids.

It was originally introduced around 1916 in the US but subsequent introductions then took a foothold in the 1980’s and spread.

They were also introduced in to Europe from the US population for biocontrol around the 1990’s and quickly took a foothold and the species has now spread to most European countries.

They are a large Ladybird and can outcompete our native species and even eat them. It also carries a microsporidian parasite (a fungus) to which it is immune but can fatally infect other species. I think this is the infection that some newspapers are labelling an STD.

Ladybirds have few natural predators, however Swallows and Swifts are immune from their chemical defences as are some Spiders, Parasitic Wasps etc.

A lot more info can be found online.

a few pics of various Harlequins taken over the last few years.

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