An invasive ladybird which is a real threat to British invertebrate biodiversity is the subject of a new monitoring effort.
The harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis
) was first found in Britain during 2004 as reported on 7th October 2004
). This invasive species, which is native to Asia, was introduced to the USA around 25 years ago and it is now the commonest ladybird there. They are voracious competitors for aphids - the chief food source of most ladybirds and will even eat other ladybirds and other invertebrates like lacewing larvae when food becomes scarce. They are considered to be a real threat to many of our native invertebrates.
Now researchers at the University of Cambridge, Anglia Polytechnic University, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Natural History Museum and The Wildlife Trusts have come together to develop a monitoring program to track the spread of the insect. If you find one you can report it here: http://www.harlequin-survey.org
. Also use this link to identify the insect - the site illustrates many of the colour forms of this very variable ladybird. Scientists hope to develop a 'pheromone trap' which can be used to control the numbers of the ladybird.