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There's a new ladybird in town and it's eating the other ladybirds' eggs

The Irish Wildlife Trust are calling on people to submit sightings.

Image: Irish Wildlife Trust

A NEW LADYBIRD has come to Ireland and it’s causing problems.

The Harlequin ladybird Harmonia axaridis is an invasive ladybird who came from Asia.

It was introduced into North America in 1988 and is now a serious insect pest.

In the summer of 2004 it arrived in the UK and is now found in all of England and in a few isolated locations in Scotland, it also invaded north-western Europe.

The Harlequin arrived in County Down in 2009.

It was then reported in Cork and Wicklow in 2010 and Carlow in 2011.

The Harlequin causes problems in the natural environment.

It has a wide dietary range and outcompetes native ladybirds for their main prey. It even consumes other ladybird species eggs and larvae.

Harlequins can reproduce up to three generations per year whilst most other native ladybird species will only reproduce once.

Survey

This year the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) is launching a nationwide ladybird survey that will run in the counties that have reported the Harlequin; Carlow, Cork and Wicklow.

Chair of the Irish Wildlife Trust Daniel Buckley said “Anyone can submit a sighting and you don’t have to be an expert!.

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“These kind of projects are a great way for members of the public to make a contribution to science and conservation.”

Eighteen species of ladybird have been recorded in Ireland, but there is still a huge gap in our knowledge of what exactly is out there and where these species are distributed.

A successful survey was piloted by the Cork Branch of the IWT,

It is important that we build up a picture of native ladybird populations and the current distribution of the invasive Harlequin in these counties as we can monitor the impact that this invasive insect is having on our native species

Sightings can be given via the website www.biology.ie or even on Facebook IWTLadybirdsurvey.

 

Read: Invasion! How ladybirds have taken over Christmas trees this year>

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