Invasive 'cannibalistic' ladybirds wiping out UK's two-spot beetles are carrying an STI, experts warn (but it's not a threat to humans)

Mail Online | 10/27/2017 | Cecile Borkhataria For;Ellie Zolfagharifard for MailOnline
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England's native ladybirds have been decimated by a 'cannibal killer' from East Asia.

The notorious Harlequin ladybird, imported to help European farmers control pests, is regarded as an invasive species all across Europe.

Harlequin - Ladybirds - Ladybird - Species - Disease

Harlequin ladybirds are larger than other ladybird species which they prey on, and some carry a sexually transmitted disease called Laboulbeniales - an order of fungi which live off the exoskeletons of insects and cause yellow growths.

According to the IBTimes, although the fungus doens't pose a risk to humans, it can cause a bad smell in homes and even stain furniture.

Hesperomyces - Virescens - Species - Fungus - Harlequin

Hesperomyces virescens, the specific species of fungus that affects Harlequin ladybirds, is transmitted between ladybirds during mating and also by invidiuals that rub against each other whent they gather in groups during winter, according to the UK ladybird survey.

The survey says it's unlikely that the ladybirds brought the fungus with it when it arrived in the UK, and it's more likely tht it was transferred from the native 2-spot population in the UK.

Harlequin - Ladybird - Britain - Fruit - Vegetables

The Harlequin ladybird arrived in Britain in 2004 - possibly by being blown over or in fruit and vegetables from Europe- and it has spread at a greater rate than grey squirrels, American mink, ring-necked parakeets and muntjac deer.

A new study published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity shows a dramatic fall in the numbers of a the 2-spot species, which is native to the UK, on lime trees.

Period - Harlequin - England - Cent - Ladybirds

Over an 11-year period in which the Harlequin invaded England it accounted for up to 70 per cent of all the ladybirds recorded.

It is known to feed on 2-spot ladybirds, and it is feared this predation is an important driver of the changes observed.

Co - Author - Dr - Peter - Brown

Co author Dr Peter Brown, of Anglia Ruskin University, said: 'This long term field study shows just how numerous...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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