Harlequin Ladybird Population Explosion

The Asian Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) is capable of devouring over 12,000 aphids a year.  This voracious appetite is why it was introduced to North America and then Europe, in order to protect crops as a “natural” pest control.  Arriving in the UK in 2004, its numbers are set to increase dramatically this summer, predicted to provide hot and ideal breeding conditions.   There is concern about the impact this will have on the 46 species of ladybird (Coccinellidae) native to Britain, but interestingly, local ladybird prasites are already adapting to prey on the interloper.  A Harlequin Ladybird Survey has been set up to try and monitor the extent of the invasion, with an excellent website to help with the difficult task of identifying this variable insect.

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