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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Survey of invasive Harlequin Ladybirds launched
An alien species called the Harlequin Ladybird has invaded the United Kingdom and is out-competing, even eating, native ladybird species which share aphids as their food.

In an effort to monitor the effects of this invasive species the University of Cambridge, invertebrate charity Buglife, the Centre for Ecology + Hydrology and Anglia Polytechnic University have launched a survey which will allow the public to record sightings of this unwelcome invader.

The Harlequin Ladybird website offers detailed descriptions of the Harlequin Ladybird as well as various, smaller and less spotty, native species. It can be tricky to tell the two types apart so people are being asked to take, and submit, digital photographs which will allow reported sightings to be confirmed by experts.

It is thought the harlequin ladybird was introduced to the UK on imported house-plants, and that there is now little chance they will ever be eliminated. Researchers are trying to develop species-specific pheromone traps which will lure the invaders to their doom, but this could take years of development work.

A separate Ladybird Survey site has also been launched in order for people to report sightings of the country's 46 native ladybirds species. If you wish to do this, you might find the following pictures of use...

Harlequin varieties

Native species