There’s no easy way to stop dis­eased in­vaders

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

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

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