Described as the most invasive ladybird on the planet, the harlequin ladybird has spread like wildfire since its introduction into the UK in 2004 and has the potential to jeopardise many of the 46 native ladybird species that we have.
Harlequin ladybirds cluster together in great numbers, entering premises during autumn and winter to overwinter, and becoming active again in spring.
The life cycle of the harlequin ladybird is quite rapid, with pre-adult development taking place around 14-20 days if the temperature is around 25°C. Adult females can begin to lay eggs after only 5 days, and can potentially lay over a thousand eggs in their lifetime.
Harlequin ladybirds feed most commonly on aphids, but have a wide food range, also feeding on scale insects, the eggs and larvae of butterflies and moths, many other small insects, including other ladybirds, pollen, nectar and sugary fluids.
Threat to wildlife
Harlequin ladybirds can seriously affect our native ladybird species. They are very effective aphid predators and easily outcompete our native 7 spot ladybird. When aphids are scarce, harlequin ladybirds consume other foodstuffs such as ladybird eggs, larvae and pupae. Harlequin ladybirds can disperse rapidly over long distances and have the potential for rapid expansion.
They can also bite humans when awoken from overwintering. The bites cause a small bump with a stinging sensation.
One of the best ways to control Harlequin Ladybirds is to use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter will ensure that insect fragments are retained and not released from the vacuum into the air.
Another method of control is by use of a device called the Ladybird Buster. This device aids the control of harlequin ladybirds which enter buildings in search of a place to hibernate. By placing a Ladybird Buster in the corner of windows or at the top corner of walls where ladybirds congregate. This limits the entry/ exit cycle of ladybirds. The ladybird buster contains a ladybird attractant to aid in efficacy and contains quicksand which rises as the ladybirds sink causing rapid dehydration of the ladybirds.
The lady buster system is an environmentally sound and economical technique that lasts for up to 2 years.
For more information on the Ladybird Buster, or to place an order, please contact us on 01226288844 or via email through our Contact Us page.