Last week I reported finding a number of ladybird pupa on the leaves in my garden. I’ve been keeping an eye on them and yesterday I found several had emerged.
As I had suspected from the pupa they have all been harlequin ladybirds. Harlequins come in a variety of forms with spots and colours varying.
Harlequin’s are an invasive species out competing our native species of ladybird. They have a bigger apetite and can eat more aphids in a sitting than most UK native varieties. They also eat eggs of other ladybird species of moths and butterflies.
Originally an Asian native they were introduced to the US to control aphid numbers. They spread quickly dominating similar species. It is thought they were accidently spread to the UK either transported within produce or blown across from mainland Europe. Once here in 2004 they spread rapidly.
More info here: http://www.harlequin-survey.org
So it always comes with mixed feelings when I sight a harlequin. On the one hand, as a beetle lover, it’s good to see a variety of ladybird do well when many are not. I know they’ll eat many of the aphids in the garden. But on the other they may be doing well at the expense of other insects I like.
If sighted you can report them here so the spread can be monitored.
Some scientists have pushed that invasive species can be positive bringing variety that may be able to survive as mankind destroys our world. The theory had faults but worth considering.
A few more photos of the harlequins. Whether they are destructive or not they certainly have a beauty.