Ladybird, ladybird: unravelling the story of an alien invader

Image © Diamond Light Source Ltd Seven-spot ladybird parasitised by a parasitic wasp: could parasites be the key to controlling the Harlequin ladybird? (Image © Remy Ware)

Scientists from five institutions have been working to monitor the spread and impact of the invasive harlequin ladybird since its arrival in Britain in 2004. Using stringent and imaginative experiments, the research team are exploring their prediction that over 1000 species in Britain are at risk from this invasive species, and how it might be controlled.
 
"Invasive alien species are one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity," says Dr Remy Ware from the University of Cambridge. "Using data from the Harlequin and UK Ladybird Surveys, we have a unique opportunity to study the early establishment, spread and adaptation of an invasive species."
 
Dr Helen Roy from NERC’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology explains, "Contributions from the public, in the form of a large number of records, have been invaluable for the surveys. Volunteer recorders are critical for our research."
 
On the exhibition stand, learn how to distinguish harlequins from our native species and see harlequins behaving badly, get up close to them under the microscope, find out how scientists are trying to control the invasion and how you can help by catching the recording bug!
 
For more information on the Harlequin Ladybird Survey, and UK research on ladybirds, please visit:

For further reading about ladybirds, please see:

  • Majerus, M.E.N., Ware, R.L. & Majerus, C.A. (2008): A year in the lives of British ladybirds. Published by the Royal Entomological Society for the Amateur Entomologists' Society Bug Club.
  • Majerus, M.E.N., Roy, H.E., Brown, P.M.J. & Ware, R.L. (2006): Guide to ladybirds of the British Isles. Field Studies Council Identification Guide. FSC.
  • Hawkins, R.D. Ladybirds of Surrey (2000). Surrey Wildlife Trust
  • Roy HE and Wajnberg E (eds) 2008. From biological control to invasion: the ladybird Harmonia axyridis as a model species. BioControl 53(1). Springer
     

The ladybird group would like to thank the following for their support in our research and helping us put this exhibit together:

The exhibitors