Watch Out For Invasive Harlequin Ladybird

harlequin ladybirdIslanders are being asked to look out for an invasive insect that has been spotted on St Martin’s and could be disastrous for Scilly’s ecosystem.

Wildlife expert Bob Dawson spotted a harlequin ladybird at Turfy Hill last week.

They’re from Asia and were first found in Britain eleven years ago. There was an influx of them in 2006.

One has been spotted on St Mary’s previously but Bob is concerned as this is an early sighting – they are more common on the mainland in the autumn.

Bob is relieved that no larvae have been spotted yet in Scilly, which indicates that they’re not breeding.

The harlequin could have easily crossed over from the mainland, maybe even stowing away on luggage.

Bob hopes this sighting is a one-off because the insects could do a lot of damage.

He says the islands don’t have the diversity of the mainland and the ecosystem is finely balanced, so introducing something like this could be very disruptive.

He said they don’t want them to get a foothold.

The harlequins can also affect some crops and, as they’re fond of grapes, Bob says our two vineyard owners should remain alert because they can taint the end product.

So how do you spot them?

There are around 40 types of ladybird on the islands. The ‘classic’ ladybird in Scilly is orangey-red with seven spots, but the harlequin looks different.

Bob says they’re either large and orange, with lots of black spots or black with two or four red spots.

He says you should put any you catch in a pot in the freezer and he’s happy to help identify any sightings. You can send a photo to Bob at stagnesnature@gmail.com.



One Response to Watch Out For Invasive Harlequin Ladybird

  1. Bob Dawson July 15, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    You can enter that record on the ERCCIS on-line recording system ORKS http://www.orks.org.uk and upload any photos as well.