The HARLEQUIN LADYBIRD
Have you seen one of these? An ongoing nationwide survey was launched in 2005 into the UK distribution of this beastie, the Harlequin Ladybird or Harmonia axyridis. It is described on the website devoted to it as “the most invasive ladybird on Earth”. For further details see The Harlequin Survey. It appears not to have been found west of a line drawn from Merseyside to the Isle of Wight, but you never know.
The harlequin ladybird was introduced to North America in 1988, where it is now the most widespread ladybird species on the continent. It has already invaded much of northwestern Europe, and arrived in Britain in summer 2004.
There are 46 species of ladybird (Coccinellidae) resident in Britain and the recent arrival of the harlequin ladybird has the potential to jeopardise many of these. The Harlequin Ladybird Survey will monitor its spread across Britain and assess its impact on native ladybirds. Monitoring ladybirds across the country has never been more important. The Harlequin Ladybird Survey ask that YOU get involved! Please record your harlequin ladybird sightings. Your observations around Nynehead as well as from elsewhere are of interest!
The distribution map below (or see the annnual spread maps) shows that it has spread rapidly north and west from the southeast of England since its first sighting.