This is why there are ladybirds everywhere right now

Science

If you’ve been noticing more ladybirds recently, there is a reason for it.

And it’s all to do with the hot summer we experienced this year.

Experts say numbers of the invasive Harlequin species have been boosted following the heatwave.

(Image: James Burke)

And now that autumn has arrived and temperatures have cooled, the little red insects are hibernating in buildings.

They are looking for small cracks around windows and doors over the colder months, report the Mirror .

But the bold bugs haven’t just been nestling in homes, but landing on people too – or in Elaine Petersen’s case, swarming them.

The 72-year-old was filmed covered in the critters at Merthyr Mawr.

Swarm of ladybirds descend on woman
Elaine Petersen

Mrs Petersen, from Rumney, was out walking her dog with her husband and son yesterday.

They went to the dunes and that’s when they saw the ladybirds covering the walls of Candleston Castle.

“The castle wall was heaving with them.

“I was taking pictures of the castle, and my son said ‘you’re covered in ladybirds mum!’

“I’m not scared of anything like that, creepy crawlies don’t faze me at all so I just stood there and let them land on me.

“Apparently people saw loads of them yesterday right across Cardiff, but not as many as that.”

Mrs Petersen says there “were all different species there, and different colours.”

Professor Helen Roy at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, who organises the UK Ladybird Survey, told the BBC that the insects started in the north of England where the weather first turned cool, before spreading down the country.

She said: “It’s quite a wildlife spectacle to see.”

The Harlequin ladybird is native to Asia and North America and have black wings rather than our common red.

(Image: James Burke)

The Harlequin carries a sexually transmitted disease which is affecting our native population.

The disease is called Laboulbeniales which is a form of fungi. This fungus is then passed on through mating or close contact and can infect our native species.

The disease cannot be passed on to humans and is not harmful to humans in any way.

Dozens of people have taken to social media to report seeing swarms of the insects in the last few days.

Twitter user Teri-lou, from Rhoose took to the social media site to ask: “Why are there so many ladybirds around?”

Nathan Edgy uploaded a picture to Twitter with the caption: “Ladybirds everywhere!”

The bugs have been dubbed Britain’s most invasive species by scientists as they prey on seven native ladybirds.

They are larger and more aggressive than other ladybirds and will even eat them alive.

Ladybirds seen in homes are likely to be the invasive species as native species tend to hibernate in trees or leaf litter.

Harlequin ladybird

Ladybird survey organiser Peter Brown told the BBC Harlequin ladybirds sometimes bite people if no food is available, which can leave a little bump and sting. Some people may have a severe allergic reaction to it.

He said that if you see the Harlequins in your home, it could be better to leave them be be easiest to leave them – adding when they are disturbed they secrete a yellowish substance that can stain furnishings.

The UK Ladybird Survey explain that harlequins were introduced to North America in 1988, where it is now the most widespread ladybird species on the continent. It has already invaded much of of north-western Europe, and arrived in Britain in summer 2004.

There are 46 species of ladybird (Coccinellidae) resident in Britain and the recent arrival of the Harlequin ladybird has the potential to jeopardise many of these. They are monitoring its spread across Britain and assess its impact on native ladybirds.

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