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Harlequin Ladybirds (Nature Notes 54)

Harlequin ladybirds

Harlequin ladybirds

This couple of ladybirds were photographed in November in St Peter’s Road. They were two of dozens clustered at the top of a lounge window. It seems they are Harlequin Ladybirds ‘the most invasive ladybird on Earth’. According to the UK Ladybird Survey, it was introduced to North America in 1988, where it is now the most widespread ladybird species on that continent. It has already invaded much of northwestern Europe, and arrived in Britain in 2004 where it has spread rapidly north and west from the southeast of England. Ladybirds are beetles and there are 46 species in Britain. The recent arrival of the Harlequin Ladybird has the potential to jeopardise many of these. Harlequin ladybirds are most commonly found on deciduous trees, such as lime, sycamore and maple, and on low growing plants such as nettles. Like all ladybirds, the Harlequin Ladybird undergoes complete metamorphosis and as such has an egg, larval, pupal and adult stage.  A single female can lay over a thousand eggs. Harlequin ladybirds feed most commonly on aphids. If you want to find out more about these insects, visit www.harlequin-survey.org 

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