There’s no easy way to stop diseased invaders
THE national papers have been going crazy about more invaders from foreign places – but it’s nothing to do with Brexit, this is a ladybird.
Following frightening stories about killer spiders and Asian hornets, we are now being invaded by harlequin ladybirds, which eat other ladybirds and spread a terrifying sexually transmitted disease.
OK, let’s calm down a bit. Harlequin ladybirds have been invading our shores for well over a decade, and just like grey squirrels and Himalayan balsam they are doing a pretty good job as far as invasions go.
Whose fault is it that these insects are invading our countryside? Well it’s humans of course.
According to Buglife, we believe harlequin ladybirds were exported to the USA from Asia to help deal with pests - they eat things like greenfly and other bugs.
They were then introduced into Europe for the same reason but multiplied and decided to fly over to the UK.
These ladybirds are so good at their job they are pretty much clearing up all the food that our native ladybirds rely on, and if they get really hungry, they eat the native ladybird larvae too.
And then there is the disease, which is a type of fungus that the harlequins are carrying. This is lethal to our native ladybirds.
It’s a similar story to the squirrel pox carried by grey squirrels which kills our native reds.
Experts are definitely recording far more harlequins than in previous years.
It is not surprising to see harlequins in your home. They are massing at the moment and will snuggle up in large groups in warm places during the colder winter months.
Harlequin ladybirds have been recorded with more than 100 different colour patterns which makes them difficult to identify, especially when you look at our seven-spot ladybird.
Many have lines around the spots.
If you spot one tell Buglife, where there is a national count to look at the size of the problem. But, as with many man-made problems, finding a solution may not be so easy.
To become a member of the Trust go to www. lancswt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.
Numbers of harlequin ladybirds in this country are increasing