Friday, November 6, 2009

Harlequin II: the nightmare continues.......







It turns out that the harlequin ladybird (widely tipped to devastate our native ladybird population) that I reported in my last post has accomplices. Nyctalus (from http://standandstare-nyctalus.blogspot.com/) and I found more in the same place today, including this multispotted morph of this highly variable species, and – much more interestingly – a fully developed larva that had anchored itself to an ivy leaf by its tail and was about to pupate. Presumable it will overwinter as a pupa and hatch as an adult next spring, but the fact that the species is breeding so late in the season up here in the North is quite remarkable. I wonder, incidentally, whether this species is attracted to ivy, given this plant’s attraction for other insects in autumn, which would be easy prey for a lurking harlequin ladybird while they are preoccupied with nectar and pollen.....






8 comments:

  1. Might be the wrong thing to say but these photographs are beautiful

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  2. Hi Adrian, Thanks ....... whatever the threat from this insect, it's probably the case that it is here to stay and there's little anyone can do about it, so maybe we should just learn to enjoy its multiple colourful disguises...

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  3. The beauty of the beast?
    Excellent pictures Phil, and like you say, I think they're here to stay.

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  4. Hi keith, looks like the harlequin ladybird is the grey sqirrel of the insevt world...

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  5. According to wikipedia (and therefore it must be true..) attempts were first made to introduce it into the US as a biological control for aphid pests as long ago as 1916. Curiously, given its current phenomenal success, these and later attempts at introduction repeatedly failed. Then something must have changed and off it went in the 80s- across the whole US in less than 20 years.

    So, they are now looking for a new biological control to control the first biological control that got out of control. Hmm....

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  6. Hi Nyctalus, yes indeed... yet another disastrous application of the vastly over-hyped biological control ...... it's unleashed a species that could become the coleopteran equivalent of the grey squirrel.

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  7. That's a funny looking little creature.

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  8. hello Emma, ladybird larvae are weird looking animals - the larlequin is spinier that the native species, giving it more of an air of menace......

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