Deadly ladybirds invade Britain from US

Deadly ladybirds invading Britain from US

'Killer' ladybirds from America are invading Britain and threatening our native species, according to experts.

Harlequin ladybirds are bringing with them a deadly sexually transmitted disease that stops native ladybirds from moving and eating.

The US ladybirds have been a threat for a number of years but the warm summer has meant their population has grown, reports the Metro.

The fungal infection, which coats them in a bright green mould, could have already spread to 15 per cent of the southern UK population of ladybirds already.

The native two-spot ladybird is already struggling, and this could dramatically reduce their already small population.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, University of Stirling PhD student Katie Murray, who discovered the rapid increase of the STI, said: "It is a potential problem, but we need to know what the problems could be.

"We don't yet know the impact, but we are going to measure the mortality and also how many eggs an infected female is able to lay.

"These are the kind of things you would expect to be impacted, but we really don't know for certain yet.

"These questions apply to both the harlequin and the native species."

The harlequin was introduced to North America in 1988 to control aphids, but spread to Europe, and was first spotted in England in 2004.

The DailyMail reports it is now thought to make up 80 per cent of all ladybirds in England and Wales.

Is alien wildlife invading Britain?
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Deadly ladybirds invade Britain from US

Known by the scientific name of Dikerogammarus villosus, Killer shrimp are highly invasive species native to south-east Europe.

Although only found in a few populations across Britain, they can quickly dominate their freshwater habitats, killing invertebrates and small fish.

Killer shrimp are larger than their native freshwater counterparts and are distinguishable by cone shaped protrusions on their tails. They can survive in damp conditions for up to five days.

Native to the north-central and south-eastern US, the grey squirrel was first spotted in Britain in 1828.

Now common in all parts of Britain, the highly invasive grey has displaced native red squirrels from much of their former range.

Greys damage trees by gnawing young bark, causing commercial damage to forestry and nuisance to gardeners. They are also predators of birds' eggs and chicks.

Also known as "Japanese bamboo", knotweed is native to Japan, Taiwan and northern China. It can be found in Britain growing in urban areas such as waste land, railways and river banks.

Often growing into dense thickets, Japanese Knotweed was first introduced in the country in the 19th century as an ornamental plant. However, it has a detrimental impact on biodiversity as it competes with native flora and contributes to river bank erosion, increasing the likelihood of flooding.

The Country Land and Business Association estimates that it costs £1.5 billion a year to remove Japanese knotweed in Britain.

Common throughout Britain, rhododendron are thought to have come to the country from Spain. Distinguished by their large evergreen shrubs with leathery leaves and purple and pink flowers, rhododendron are still planted by gardeners today.

They are most common in acidic and peaty soils in woodland, river banks, gardens, and parks.

Native to south-west Europe and Asia, rhododendron were first introduced by gardeners in the late 18th century into parks and woodlands, where it was used for game cover.

Distinguishable by their small lobster-like appearence, the crayfish are easy to recognise. Threatening native white-clawed crayfish, the signal crayfish is much larger with red claws and a small turquoise or white blotch on the surface of its body.

The signal crayfish was first introduced on these shores for consumption in the late 1970s and 1980s but spread quickly across much of the UK.

As it is listed under schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to release or to allow the escape of the species into the wild. In the UK it is an offence to keep any crayfish without a license, except in some parts of southern England.

A member of the cow-parsley family, a Giant Hogweed flower stems up to two and three metres high, with flowers up to 80cm in diameter.

Common in lowland parts of Britain, sap from Giant Hogweed sensitises human skin to ultra-violet light, leading to severe blisters. Affected skin can remain sensitive for several years.

A North American floating water plant, the Floating Pennywort is found mostly in the south-east of England and occasionally in the north-west of England and Wales.

It spreads rapidly and can grow up to 20cm per day, and may quickly dominate a body of water forming thick mats and impeding water flow and amenity use.

Pennywort was first naturalised in the UK in 1990 as a result of discarded plants from garden ponds.

The caterpillars of the Oak Processionary Moth are natives of mainland Europe. They were found breeding in the UK for the first time in 2006, on oak trees in Ealing and Richmond, in London.

The caterpillars feed on oak leaves and produce silken nests on the trunks of affected trees. They also have irritable hairs that carry a toxin which can be blown in the wind and cause serious irritation to the skin, eyes and bronchial tubes of humans and animals.

Native to China and north Vietnam, the Tree of Heaven was first recorded growing in the wild in the 1930s in Surrey.

Commonly found growing in urban areas and along London railway lines, Tree of Heaven was named as one of the top 100 most invasive species in Europe by Delivering Alien Invasive Species In Europe (DAISIE).

It grows by forming dense thickets with suppress other plant species and reportedly increases soil fertility.

Native to south-east Russia, Zebra Mussels reside in slow river water such as, canals, docks, lakes and can also be found water pipes and cooling systems.

They are marked by distinctive coloured stripes and threaten their ecology by smothering native species, rapidly filtering out nutrients from the water and clogging pipes.

The invasive Russian molluscs are commonly found across England, Ireland and at limited locations in Scotland and Wales.

A diving duck with a dumpy, short-necked shape and a longish tail, the duck's population in Britain has been reduced from 6,000 to 100.

First found in Britain in the 1950s, Ruddy ducks threaten native species through hybridisation and competition. The males of the species are chestnut-red with white cheeks and a swollen, bright blue bill. Females are brown with a dark cap and a horizontal dark bar across the cheek.


World's deadliest insects
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Deadly ladybirds invade Britain from US
Native to east and southeast Asia, the Asian giant hornet is the world's largest hornet with its two-inch-long body and three-inch wingspan. Especially well known in Japan, the hornet packs a lot of venom and can attack and kill people. Hundreds of people were stung by the flying insects in the Chinese province of Shaanxi in October 2013. The hornets killed 28 people with their highly toxic sting that can lead to anaphylactic shock and renal failure.
Tsetse flies may resemble house flies but these insects, found mostly in Africa, are blood suckers that carry dangerous parasites, causing sleeping sickness or trypanosomiasis. The disease develops slowly but can be fatal if treatment is delayed. Tourists on safari holidays in destinations, such as Tanzania and South Africa, as well as in the Sahara have been bitten by tsetse flies.
There's nothing scary about ants, right? Wrong! Fire ants attack humans with both a bite and sting, leaving your skin swollen, red and painful. While their sting is more bearable than a bee sting, fire ants have been known to kill people, especially those who are allergic. Native to South America and found in hot countries, the insects can cause victims who are allergic to their bite to sweat, have slurred speech and chest pain.
Known for carrying Chagas disease, Assassin bugs most often infect people in poor, rural areas of the Americas. They are known as 'kissing bugs' as they usually bite their victims around the mouth and nose while they are sleeping - some bites are painless and others are the most painful of any insect. The danger comes after the bite, with Chagas disease causing rashes, fevers and vomiting, and in some cases death.

You probably didn't think you'd find the common dust mite in our roundup of dangerous insects but when it comes to Britain's deadliest bugs, these tiny invertebrates that can only be seen under a microscope are the biggest killers. 90 per cent of asthma sufferers in the UK identify dust times as a trigger for their attacks and charity Asthma UK says there were 1,143 deaths from asthma in the Britain in 2010. While not all of these deaths were caused by dust mites, droppings left by the insects can trigger asthma attacks.

Malaria has killed millions of people worldwide and is most commonly transmitted by a bite from an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Once the female bites an infected human, she transmits the malarial parasites to the next person she feeds on. Dengue is another killer disease spread by mosquitoes, with experts warning travellers to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup of the risks when visiting the South American country.

They may be tiny but ticks can be deadly too. They feed on the blood of mammals and spread diseases between their hosts. The most serious for humans is Lyme disease, which if left untreated can cause permanent disability. In 2008, a British woman plunged to her death from her bedroom window after suffering from Lyme disease when she was bitten by a tick while staying at her friend's property in France. The tick bite caused Jan Lynton to suffer paranoid delusions.
The fact that Bull ants are found in Australia (where some of the world's deadliest and most venomous animals live) tells us their sting probably packs a serious punch. Also known as Jack Jumpers, they are one of the oldest ant species, grow over 40mm-long and are extremely aggressive towards intruders. They can spot you from a metre away and their highly painful sting can cause anaphylactic shock if you're allergic.
It may look cute and furry to some but the puss caterpillar is far from. The fuzzy creature, found in North America, will spit acid at any attacker and has poisonous pines all over its body, which can cause extreme reactions for humans. Although no deaths have been recorded as of yet, its sting is hard to identify leading to patients being misdiagnosed and sometimes accidental deaths.
Africanized honey bees, or Killer bees, viciously attack people who unintentionally enter their territory. They are extremely sensitive to vibrations and when disturbed they have extra soldiers on duty to respond to alarms. The bees are similar to regular honey bees but have a defensive attack, so when a colony senses a threat a victim can be stung around 2,000 times, compared to up to 200 times by honey bees. In June 2013, a farmer was tragically killed in Texas, USA when he was driving a tractor on his neighbour's property and hit a pile of wood that concealed a hive of 40,000 Africanized bees.

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