The Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) first appeared in the UK in 2004. Soon after it's arrival, it was exceptionally quick to colonise new areas of the country, whilst substantially strengthening its existing populations in the south-east. Within the space of a couple of years, it had reached the north-west of England, Herefordshire and the Welsh borders.
Native to the Far East, including Japan and Korea, the Harlequin ladybird - also known as the Asian Lady Beetle - population has exploded across Europe over the last 15 years.
You may see them cluster around window frames or on doors and although they are not harmful, they excrete a foul smelling liquid if disturbed which may also stain fabrics and upholstery.
With record breaking temperatures this summer, people are already reporting swarms of ladybirds sweeping the country. The last year temperatures reached similar high was in 1976 when a ladybird invasion also took hold across the UK in the Autumn.
Due to the potential threat to our native ladybird species, people are advised to seek professional pest control advice if faced with a ladybird invasion. Unlike most other ladybird species, the Harlequin doesn’t stick to one type of food. It feeds primarily on aphids in crops, moving onto other ladybird eggs, larvae and even the eggs and caterpillars of moths and butterflies. The Harlequin ladybird has a raging appetite and, one of the reasons why they pose such a threat to our native ladybird is that they out compete them for food.
They hibernate in large numbers in houses and other buildings. In some cases, tens of thousands of ladybirds have been found in homes during winter. And, in the Spring, they look for a way out as they become active again.
You can find out more about the UK's native ladybirds by visiting the UK Ladybird Survey website.
If you’re concerned about a ladybird problem, call PGM & SON Hereford for advice on 01981 241334.