Plagues of foreign ladybirds have been spotted in the UK as they seek shelter in warm houses.
According to Ecological Contractor for Buglife, Rory Dimond, the ladybirds in question are Harlequin ladybirds, an invasive species from Asia.
The Harlequin bugs are infected with the Laboulbeniales sexually-transmitted disease and can give off a nasty chemical smell.
He said they have spread rapidly across the UK since 2004, after they were introduced to Holland to control aphids. “The ladybirds pose no danger to humans however, large gatherings can give off a chemical smell and in centrally-heated houses they may be woken up from hibernation by the warmth and fly around the house,”
Mr Dimond said. “Although it is not a native species, they are now so abundant that killing the ladybirds will have next to no impact.”
Buglife don’t recommend spraying them with pesticides, however.
“It is best to remove the ladybirds humanely if you can using a glass and card.”
In the South of England, people took to social media to report the influx. Many reported they can leave a yellow stain on furniture.
Facebook user Carl Garrod said: “Ladybirds were buzzing around and bumping into my (attic) office window in Gosport today to such an extent that at first I feared it was bees (or) wasps gathering to build a nest in the roof!”
Karen Martin said: “The whole front of my house was swarming with ladybirds, they were coming in the windows. When I went out to video them, they were landing all over me. Amazing!”
Hannah Molly said: “My dad went out to have a fag and counted about 100 of them and when he came back indoors he had loads on him. It was funny to see him trying to get them off.”
Helen Mayhead said: “There were literally hundreds of them on the front of our house this afternoon. Looked like they were trying to get in through the windows.”
Mr Dimond said the influx into houses has become an annual phenomenon. “As winter is drawing in, the ladybirds are seeking sheltered spots to hibernate away from the cold,” he said.
“They particularly like houses and outbuildings and have a habit of gathering together in suitable areas.”
Although the colour of ladybirds may vary, Mr Dimond said they are all of the same species.
If You’ve spotted Harlequin ladybirds near you, let us know. You can also submit a record to the UK ladybird survey to help record the spread of the species across the country: http://www.ladybird-survey.org/
For more information about Harlequin ladybirds visit www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/harlequin-ladybird
Video: Stef Morris