For those who missed our recent feature on BBC1 Midlands Today News regarding the harlequin ladybird, it’s impact on homes and businesses in Birmingham and the harlequins impact on native ladybird species, please find below the Transcripts from the television article broadcast on March 28th.
Nick Owen: “Now the chances are with all this magnificent weather we’ve been having you have probably spent a lot of time outside. Well you may have noticed a ladybird or two…”
Suzanne Virdee: Or three, or four, or three or four hundred…well sadly, one of England’s most recognised insects is under threat from a foreign invader. Ben Sidwell has been to see the good and the bad of the ladybird world.
Ben Sidwell: They’re one of the first signs of spring and instantly recognisable. But the ladybirds we have grown up with are facing a threat from their own kind. A bigger and more ferocious ladybird called the harlequin has invaded our shores from Europe.
“The first harlequin ladybirds were spotted in the south of England in 2004. Since then they have moved about a hundred kilometres north, which means now they are a real pest right here in the Midlands.
At Altek Midlands Environmental in Frankley they’re used to dealing with pests such as wasps, rats or even bed bugs. But recently the Harlequin ladybird has been added to that list and a number of cases are quickly rising.
Alan Read, Managing Director, AMES: “I have literally seen the harlequin ladybird eating our native species. They’re becoming more prominent and they are overpowering the ladybirds that we obviously just take for granted.”
Ben Sidwell: “Whilst British ladybirds shelter outside during the winter, the harlequin prefers the warmth of a building, causing problems like the one in this office in Harborne in Birmingham”.
Hugo Simpson, Pest Control Technician, AMES “There can be huge clusters in rooms, they can take over a whole house, tens of thousands can take over a whole house…no harm, but a huge nuisance factor”.
For entomologists like Professor Moray Anderson however, there is a bigger concern than just the pest problem. The harlequin threatens the very existence of our 46 native ladybird species.
Professor Moray Anderson: “The United States has not destroyed but taken over in many, many areas as being the most predominant ladybird species, whereas the native ladybirds have been literally destroyed by it”.
Ben Sidwell: “For the foreign ladybird invaders in this office it’s the end of the line. While the harlequin may be good news for pest control firms, the hope is it won’t mean the disappearance of the British ladybirds we all know and love”.