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Your ladybird questions answered

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Gavin Boyland Gavin Boyland | 16:20 UK time, Saturday, 12 November 2011

We've been aware that tons of you have been asking about ladybirds. It's at this time of year, as autumn draws on, that suddenly we're seeing huge number congregating and invading our homes. Also a lot of you will be aware of, and have been asking about, the harlequin ladybird, a recent invading species, and how that's doing.

We'll, I took your question and posed them to Dr Remy Poland, a leading ladybird expert and Biology teacher at Clifton College in Bristol.

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If you interest in helping out with the survey here's the link to the Harlequin Ladybird Survey.

I hope the video's answered your questions.

Gavin Boyland is the Producer of Autumnwatch Unsprung


  • Comment number 1.

    It is as I replied they are looking to hibernate.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think you should have a 'Spot the Ladybird' competition.

  • Comment number 3.

    I've posted a picture of the ladybirds that are actually in the treads of the tyres on one of my parents vehicles! may I add its a vehicle that is not mobile!! but why are they doing this ??

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi, How many Lady Bird Species are there in the UK?

  • Comment number 5.

  • Comment number 6.

    sharonc 3 They are hibernating.

  • Comment number 7.

    Are introduced species such as the Harlequin ladybird really such a threat to our own species? If they do out-compete our own then,surely, this is evolution in action - a perfectly natural process? I photographed this 'ugly-bug ball' in October and the photo shows ladybirds at many stages of development - all in one place. They were still there later in the year when it snowed! I believe these are Harlequin Ladybirds.See photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/43210094@N03/6343226723/in/photostream/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/43210094@N03/6343226575/in/photostream/

  • Comment number 8.

    Ryan - there are currently 46 ladybird species in Britain, plus another one which occasionally arrives as a natural immigrant, and a few more species which occasionally arrive as biocontrol or accidental imports.

    Bob Carter - your first photo shows ants trying to evict a 7-spot from an aphid colony. Ants 'farm' aphids for their honeydew, so defend the colony against predators, such as ladybirds or hoverfly larvae. It's unusual for the interloper to be killed, but they're often forced off the plant.

    For your second post, the key difference is that the Harlequin is only here because of human actions. The detrimental effects of the Harlequin - and they're increasingly well-documented - are only happening because we brought the Harlequin to Europe

  • Comment number 9.

    rimo - many thanks for your interesting reply. Yes, I agree it is only happening because of human activity - but it is happening and it's difficult to see a 'solution'.

  • Comment number 10.

    shouldn't they be advising people to squash all harlequin beetles they find- not carefully release them back to do more damage to our native species? That's what I do. The advice in this clip is non-sensical

  • Comment number 11.

    Liuqnoj - there are thought to be around a billion Harlequin ladybirds in Britain (Harlequin beetles are a different species), and each female Harlequin can lay up to 2200 eggs (and they have 2-3 generations every year).

    Basically, squashing a few here and there will make absolutely no difference, especially given that the species is widespread just across the channel, and has no problem flying that distance (that's how it got here in the first place). Even if every Harlequin in Britain were killed tomorrow, the species would be back in the country the day after that.

    When you add to the mix the fact that the Harlequin is massively variable, making it quite likely that people would be squashing native species, it becomes clear that encouraging the killing of Harlequins would not just be pointless, but actively counter-productive. That's why we don't recommend people kill them.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think I can identify harlequins and know the difference between them and native ladybirds. Also the behaviour of grouping together indoors is behaviour which I haven't noticed our natives do. I refuse to gratuitously add to the population of unwanted bugs by carefully putting them outside! I think you underestimate people's intelligence. We'll just have to disagree.

    I've found the native ladybird population seems to be hanging on in my garden. They outnumber harlequins, particularly at the beginning of the year. I like to think that squashing the up to 50 harlequins that get in my lounge helps them! I've got a fairly ladybird friendly garden, with lots of places for them to over-winter.

  • Comment number 13.

    The 2-spot is the other species which overwinters in houses in large numbers, but various other species also sometimes come in. Having a ladybird-friendly garden will do far more for the natives than squashing a few Harlequins.


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