Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Harlequin ladybird



Had my first sighting of what I believe was a harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis yesterday, when I found it feeding on ivy flowers near the entrance to Durham University Botanic Garden. It matches the published descriptions and photographs, although the legs are usually (but not always) brown, whereas in this specimen they are almost black. It has already been recorded in Durham and further North (see http://www.harlequin-survey.org/images/maps/harlequin_years_20July09.jpg) but this is the first that I’ve encountered. It seemed to be nibbling away harmlessly at the nectar on the surface of an ivy flower, but maybe it was just lurking and waiting to do something unspeakable to a visiting native ladybird species....... current opinion is that it could have a devastating effect on our insect fauna as it becomes more widespread - see http://www.ceh.ac.uk/news/news_archive/2009_news_item_28.html. I'll certainly be keeping a lookout for it next year. The wing colour patterns on the harlequin ladybird are astonishingly varied (see http://www.harlequin-survey.org/recognition_and_distinction.htm#).








6 comments:

  1. Durham? I hadn't realised they had travelled this far north, Phil. I have been looking out for them but have not seen any this year.

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  2. I think my little corner of Lincolnshire has escaped the invasion so far. I have seen scores of 7 spots but no other varieties this year.

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  3. I've not noticed any here yet Phil.
    We'll see what next year brings.

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  4. Hello Emma, I was surprised too but the latest distribution maps even show a few sightings north of the border...

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  5. Hi John, yes, it's been a better year for 7-spot ladybirds around here too but the arrival of these aliens might be a bit of a setback for native species...

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  6. I'll be keeping a lookout next year too Keith .... once they arrive they seen to establish themselves and multiply very quickly...

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