Invader hits British ladybug numbers

Feb. 7, 2012 at 5:58 PM   |   Comments

WALLINGFORD, England, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A decline in ladybugs native to Britain is being driven by an invasive species of the family of colorful little beetles, scientists say.

The Asian harlequin ladybug, or ladybird as the beetles are called in many parts of the world, is responsible for a decline of seven out of eight native species examined by researchers, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The harlequin species was brought into Europe for pest control but is now seen as a pest itself, as harlequins breed more frequently than many native European species and compete for food and habitat, researchers said.

"This study provides strong evidence of a link between the arrival of the harlequin and declines in other species of ladybird," said Helen Roy from the Center for Ecology and Hydrology in Oxfordshire.

The invasive ladybugs could have a damaging effect on ecosystems throughout Europe, researchers said.

"Ladybirds provide an incredibly useful ecological function by keeping aphids in check," said Tim Adriaens of the Research Institute for Nature and Forest in Belgium.

"At the continental scale, the arrival of the harlequin could impact on the resilience of ecosystems and severely diminish the vital services that ladybirds deliver."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Recommended UPI Stories
Featured UPI Collection
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]

Most Popular
Newfoundland fossil is earliest evidence of muscled animals
Obama's plan calls for computer chip implants to help soldiers heal
Study: gamblers' brains not unlike those of pigeons
Washington State's Elwha River flows free once again
Tech industry All Stars developing 'Star Trek'-style communication badges
Trending News