Deadly ladybirds invade Britain from US

Ruth Doherty
Deadly ladybirds invading 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.

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