The ladybird survey and the approaching Harlequin Invasion

posted in: Gardening | 25

Ladybird, ladybird where have you been?

Have you seen your first ladybird wandering around this spring?  I did a few weeks ago down by the River Almond in Perthshire.  As I was taking a photograph of an old Cytisus scoparius/scotch broom seed head along the river bank  I noticed there on the stem was a little 7 spot ladybird.  Its botanical name is Coccinella 7-punctata and is the most common species in the UK.
7 spot ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata
First ladybird sighting of the year
Here in the UK you can take part in the yearly Ladybird Survey and I submitted these photographs today to the survey.
7 spot ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata
Here is the seedhead that lead me to find the ladybird.cytisus/scotch broom seedhead


Why is this so important these days to record Ladybird sightings?

In the UK we are being invaded by Harlequin ladybirds.

Taken from the Ladybird site:

A new ladybird has arrived in Britain . But not just any ladybird: this is the harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, the most invasive ladybird on Earth.
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 of north-western 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.
In the UK there is also a survey form to fill in if you find a Harlequin Ladybird in your area.  Most of the sightings so far have been in the South of England.  On the Map there were sightings of this ladybird in my  area during 2009 so I’ll be on the lookout this year.For now no one is really sure how much damage this Harlequin will do to
our native species.
Its only through this survey that the scientists can
keep track of the native and non native species – and its up to us to
send them in the details they need.If anyone does come across a
they are to just to try and take a photo of it and then leave
it alone
as the scientists want to study its behaviour “in the field”.

ladybird survey button Do any of you watch for the sightings of the first ladybirds in your area?  If you like  you can leave your sighting details in the comments section of this post or if you live in the UK you could possibly take part in the Ladybird survey  by clicking on this button.
Rosie Nixon
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Rosie is based in Perth, Perthshire as a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature in her own garden and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the Scottish outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at the only photographic gallery in Scotland - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

25 Responses

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    Edith Hope

    Dear Rosie, This is all so alarming. I had not realised that there was a threat to our own native ladybirds and am so glad that you have brought this to my attention. What, do you imagine, is to be done?

    It seems more and more that Nature is under threat from so many different quarters. I do admire your concern and the way that you are actively playing your part.

    On a lighter note, I do hope that you had a really happy Mothering Sunday – no doubt with all of your family which must have been great fun.

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    @Edith Hope I had a lovely Mothering Sunday Edith.

    From the information I've read Edith for now no one is really sure how much damage this Harlequin will do to our native species. Its only through this survey that the scientists can keep track of the native and non native species – and its up to us to send them in the details they need.

    If anyone does come across a Harlequin they are to just to try and take a photo of it and then leave it alone as the scientists want to study its behaviour "in the field"

    Hope this helps


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    Sigh. More tales of invasive species. It never seems to stop. 🙁

    On a brighter note, though, your pictures of the native ladybug are just wonderful! I really resonate with your photographic "eye."

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    Jeri Landers

    We had a terrible invasion of ladybugs a few years ago, I do not know if they were harlequins but they got in our house covered the walls,curtains,everything! Ladybugs in the coffee, ladybugs in the dishwater, ladybugs on the quilts. We were vacuuming ladybugs off the ceilings every couple hours, it was simply horrid! I've not been very fond of them ever since, little stinkers.

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    I didn't know that Harlequins were so bad for native ladybird populations. I have seen some, but thankfully not many and not recently.

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    Very interesting post, Rosie. After a little more research, I realized that this is the same ladybird that is referred to in North America as the Asian lady beetle or Japanese ladybug. I will now do a little more observing when I spot a ladybird, and see what species are present in my garden. Such an informative post, as I didn't know that these ladybirds were having an effect on native populations.

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    Thanks for a very informative and interesting post Rosie (I too loved the photo of the little red ladybird!)
    I did have a terrible moment when I realised the invasive species you talk about looks an awful lot like the ladybug in my last post, but they are not the same species (thank goodness!)as the behaviour is very different (the ones in my garden don't arrive in mass numbers or invade the house, they just quietly eat my aphids) and the pupa look nothing like the one in your photo.
    I must find out if this harlequin/Asian ladybug has reached Australian shores or not!

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    Great information Rosie. I thought a ladybird was a ladybird I was completely unaware there were different species. It seems every genus, plant or animal is becoming overwhelmed by the most aggressive species in it's genera.
    I will keep my eyes open and scrutinize every ladybird, I see, when they arrive in a couple of months in my extreme northern garden, and count it's spots .

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    Yes, I allready saw several ladybirds this spring! Three C. septempunctata, a 22-spot ladybird, and an Oenopia conglobata (which hasn't an English name, as it is a rather local one, that is unknown in the UK.)
    Until now, I only saw two harlequin ladybirds here this year.

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    I can't say that I've noticed a difference in the species. I'm just happy to see them as they eat the aphids and such off of my hibiscus and citrus trees. I'm always happy to see them!

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    jodi (bloomingwriter)

    Very important post, Rosie. It's unfortunate that harlequins are so common and invasive, although they do at least eat pesky aphids, etc. We've had a few of the Asian variety indoors this winter, but they haven't multiplied or anything, so I just let them be until they succumb to a cat paw or it gets warm enough to let them outdoors.

    I just wish that species didn't have to get invasive. Like the starlings that have found our garden. I'm afraid I'm going to have to take the 20 gauge to them, because I worry about them driving the smaller songbirds and the migrating redwings away. Maybe if I just stop feeding all the birds for a week or to the starlings would leave and I could entice my other feathered friends back? I realize we're mixing species here, but I've been worrying about this for a few days.

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    Miranda Bell

    A very informative posting and some beautiful photos – unfortunately being in France we don't qualify for the research but I did infact find 2 ladybirds in the garden when I was doing a bit of pruning and tidying up earlier in the week – they are such useful insects especially when it comes to eating all the aphids! Hope you're having a good week yourself – Miranda x

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    Icy BC

    Love lady bug, Rosie!

    BTW-thanks for identified my little lavender flower. I've updated my post and gave you a shout.

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    Rosie I did NOT think there was a difference in these "ladybugs" Ladybirds! I too will pay closer attention to these..last year in general I saw very few ladybugs and butterflies.
    I saw my first ladybug my garden..will really pay closer atention now!!
    Thank you for info!

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    I didn't realize that the "ladybug" we mostly see here in the U.S. is an introduced and invasive species. I love the ladybirds I knew growing up in England and always assumed that the American ladybug was the same thing.

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    Curbstone Valley Farm

    I don't tend to see very many ladybirds here. Their absence is rather notable, as my last two gardens certainly had them. I'm going to have to keep my eyes peeled though, as I'm curious to see when they do show up, which ones we actually have.

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    Christine B.

    Still too much snow for them here. I did stop by a nursery last week and they had just released hundreds of ladybirds (or as we like to call them here: ladybugs). I was tip toeing around the greenhouse so as not to squash any.

    Christine in Alaska

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    Thank you for showing the sign of a beautiful season.

    That map showed when a Japanese cherry tree generally bloomed by an outline.
    There are various changes by a kind of the cherry tree and the climate.

    Therefore, some watching a beautiful cherry tree may be difficult.

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    I have yet to see a ladybug around here. But come fall there will be many of them! Lovely captures!

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    You captured that ladybug perfectly! Now I have to go look up harlequin ladybugs, and what is a lade? Our dictionary only shows definitions for the verb. ~karen

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    Hi Rosie, I seem to have hundreds of the Japanese or maybe Harlequin ladybugs inside! I guess they are really beetles. They seem to winter in the siding and come inside. I had no idea they were a danger to our more native beetles.

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    Hi Rosie-I find little lady birds nestled in leaves, waiting for the weather to warm – happy spring, anyday now!

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