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Harlequin Ladybird: the foreign invader

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Harlequin Ladybird: the foreign invader

The harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) is one of our best known examples of an 'invasive species'! It is causing concern as it spreads through Britain and, as it does so, interbreeds with our native ladybirds and will, it is thought, eventually mean our pure bred species will be no more. This is a very emotive topic and our attitude to new species colonising our islands has been described as akin to racism. 

The harlequin ladybird is a native of south east Asia and was brought to Europe BY HUMAN BEINGS to control aphids. From mainland Europe, by one means or another, it has reached our shores and with the potential of a changing climate (man made of course) it is likely to spread far and wide. Having got here courtesy of man-kind as a perceived benefit to man-kind it is now seen as a potential enemy. 

New species colonising new areas of the world is nothing new, it has been going on for millennia. In this country most of the species, even the ones considered indigenous, actually arrived here from elsewhere after the ice age. There is no doubt that as human beings travel the globe there will be many, many more examples of new colonies becoming established; there are scorpions in Southampton docks and the false black widow is now established in homes all along the south coast.

What I found most interesting in researching this piece is that the harlequin and the seven-spot ladybird live happily side by side in Japan so may be the threat is not as great as is being suggested.

The harlequin is bigger than other ladybird species and is very variable in appearance.


 

If you would like to see the complete series that this post is part of click here ---->
This nature note was written by ----> Peter Orchard
This nature nore was written ----> 2 years 1 month ago

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