Monday, March 21, 2005

Animal of the Week March 21, 2005 -- Immigration special

Ah spring,
The daffodils are fluttering and dancing in the breeze, the birds are nesting, lambs are gamboling in the field, and any day now the bees will be a buzzing, butterflies will be flitting lazily by, and what else? Ladybirds of course! Specifically Harmonia axyridis (harlequin).
In the far-east where they are native, harlequins are a colourful, varied, and versatile component of the food web, feeding on aphids, nectar, fruit, beetle eggs and larvae, and many other things. In non-native countries, away from their natural parasites and predators, harlequins are pernicious invaders feeding on native ladybirds' food and even native ladybirds. In about 20 years from their introduction as biological control organisms in the southeastern USA, harlequins have become the most common ladybird species in North America. And now, harlequins have landed in the UK. They first appeared last year and look set to have similar success here as they have on mainland Europe and in the US. There is a survey in the UK to track the spread of this species across the country, if you would like to get involved go So, look out for this AOTW as the weather warms up, and cherish the other ladybird species you spot as you go about it.


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