- Harlequin ladybirds are flying to the UK from Asia and North America
- They pose a serious threat to the 47 species native to the British Isles
- The bugs are carrying an STD called Laboulbeniales fungal disease
- And they could ruin households too leaving smells, stains on furniture, and they can also affect the production of alcohol
Alien invasion: The Harlequin ladybirds are swarming the UK in their millions
Biting foreign ladybirds riddled with STDs are swarming towards the UK in their millions this winter.
The black-winged Harlequin ladybirds are invading from Asia and North America, and could infect our 47 native species while ruining the Christmas party season by spoiling fine wine and secreting disgusting stinky liquids.
Scientists say they pose a significant threat to their red-winged rivals, carrying the Laboulbeniales fungal disease which is passed on through mating.
And the invaders are hungry too and eat bugs from their own species such as the British Isles native two-spot ladybird.
Although they are not thought to be as harmful to humans, they can let off a nasty smell and crawl all over the furniture leaving ugly stains.
They also bite when they run out of food, which can spark a severe allergic reaction in rare cases.
Scientists say the invading species pose a significant threat to their red-winged native rivals
The aggressive interlopers have been flying in aided by the mild autumn winds, and have already been spotted across the UK from Plymouth to Peterborough.
Dozens have photographed the creepy-crawlies in their homes, with Merseyside and Manchester thought to be especially affected.
The UK Ladybird Survey suggests the deadly fungus they are carrying could affect the lifespan or the number of eggs a female can produce over her lifespan, although further research is needed.
They add the Harlequins can ‘exude a yellow fluid (called reflex blood) which has an unpleasant acrid smell, and which can stain soft furnishings.
‘When hungry, harlequin ladybirds will bite humans in their search for something edible. Ladybirds in houses, woken from dormancy by central heating, may bite people as there is no food available.
‘The bites usually produce a small bump and sting slightly. There are a few documented cases of people having a severe allergic reaction to harlequin ladybirds.’
The aggressive bugs have been flying in on mild autumn winds from Asia and North America
HOW TO SPOT A SEX CRAZED FOREIGN INVADER
The Harlequin ladybird can have many patterns, but often has black wings
The Harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis iare, is the most invasive species of the bug on earth.
It has over 100 different recorded colour patterns recorded which makes it difficult to identify.
Many of them have black wings with red spots however, and are larger than Britain’s native two-spot ladybird.
If its less than 5 mm (1/5 inch) in length, for example, it is definitely not a harlequin ladybird.
They hibernate in large numbers in buildings during the winter, meaning they could swarm into houses in large groups.
Their legs are almost always brown.
Professor Helen Roy, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, warned the ladybirds could also limit alcohol production.
She said: ‘These ladybirds also feed on grapes so they are often found in vineyards which, of course, becomes a problem for wine production.
‘Their powerful, defensive chemicals can affect the taste of wine if they get trapped in the production process.’
Harlequin ladybirds were first seen in the UK in 2004 when they were imported for use as a pest control of crops.
Since their arrival the native two-spotted ladybird population has declined by as much as 30 per cent.
Rory Dimond, ecological contractor and communications volunteer at Buglife in Plymouth, said ‘The ladybirds in question here are an invasive species from Asia.
‘As winter is drawing in, the ladybirds are seeking sheltered spots to hibernate away from the cold.
‘They particularly like houses and outbuildings and have a habit of gathering together in suitable areas.’
He added killing them would have no effect as there are too many.
‘It is best to remove the ladybirds humanely if you can using a glass and card,’ he said.
Since the Harlequin’s arrival in 2004 for use as a pest control bug the native two-spotted ladybird population has declined by as much as 30 per cent
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Biting alien Harlequin ladybirds riddled with STDs swarming UK in their millions and could kill of native bugs – Daily Mail