The first sighting was made in a house near Loch Tummel in October 2007. The most recent record was made in January 2008 from Orkney. In both cases it is thought that the ladybirds arrived either with people or products from England or abroad.
|Harlequin ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis) © Francis Rowland|
The Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) is a native of eastern Asia, but due to its appetite for aphids and other invertebrates it has been introduced to many other countries as a biological control agent. In the 1980s it was introduced to North America to control insects on crops and it has since become the most widespread ladybird across the continent. It has spread rapidly across north-western Europe and arrived in Britain in 2004, where it has since successfully established itself throughout England
“This ladybird can have a devastating effect on our native ladybirds. It’s not fussy about what it eats. Once it has run out of aphids it will feed on other ladybird eggs and larvae and even butterfly and moth eggs and caterpillars.” Said Buglife’s Conservation Officer for Scotland Craig Macadam. “Harlequin ladybirds are often found hibernating in large numbers in buildings during autumn and winter. There are cases where tens of thousands of ladybirds have been found in people’s homes.”
The Harlequin ladybird can quickly outnumber our native ladybirds. Buglife believes that the issue of invasive species such as the Harlequin ladybird should be taken very seriously. Action is required by the Government at three levels:-
1. To, if at all possible, exterminate the Harlequin ladybird.
2. To join American research efforts to find a long term solution to the problem.
3. To work in the EU to secure better biosecurity for the continent.
Anyone who thinks they may have found a Harlequin ladybird should contact the Harlequin ladybird survey. For further information visit www.harlequin-survey.org
Notes for editors:
Buglife - The Invertebrate Conservation Trust is the first organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, and is actively engaged in saving Britain's rarest bugs, snails, bees, wasps, ants, starfish, spiders, beetles and many more fascinating creatures. Established in 2002, the charity now has nine members of staff working of diverse projects including a bumblebee survey and brownfield conservation. For more information on Buglife’s work go to: www.buglife.org.uk
For further information please contact:
01786 447504 / 07920 234668