Ladybird invasion - Have you spotted swarms of the creatures?
PUBLISHED: 16:42 06 October 2018
Swarms of ladybirds have been arriving in homes in Suffolk and north Essex - have you spotted any?
Insect experts are suggesting that this summer’s heatwave has boosted the numbers of the Harlequin ladybird species.
Posts on social media describe the swarms of insects, which are being nicknamed “bishy barnabees,” and show the ladybirds clustered inside and outside homes.
Annmarie Clack from Waldringfield said: “My partner and I sat and watched the ladybirds enter our house yesterday and take up the exact same position as they did last winter!”
Pat Sansom of Sudbury said: “I had a lot of ladybirds in my home and was trying to keep out of their way.”
Twitter users are reporting large numbers of the insects in West Suffolk. Justine Paul said that Horringer was “smothered in them”, and Jayne Gilbert said there had been loads in Little Cornard, but added: “The damp has driven them away.”
Meanwhile, Sam Lawrence said she had seen a ladybird swarm in Bury St Edmunds.
There were reports of large numbers of ladybirds in Monks Eleigh and Colchester, and swarms have also been seen in Norfolk.
The black-winged Harlequin ladybirds first arrived in the UK from Asia and North America in 2004 and are now the second most common species. Richard Harvey, of East Anglian Pest Control, based in Ipswich, said on Facebook: “These are taking over from our UK ladybird.”
Peter Brown, from the UK Ladybird Survey, told the BBC: “If you’re getting large numbers of ladybirds coming into a building, they are very likely to be Harlequins.”
He added that other species normally hibernate throughout the winter in trees or fallen leaves. The Harlequins hibernate over winter in buildings like homes to stay warm as the temperature drops.
The Harlequin Ladybird Survey, which has been raising concern over the intrusive creatures, says on its website: “As a defence mechanism many ladybird species exude a yellow fluid (called reflex blood) which has an unpleasant acrid smell, and which can stain soft furnishings.
It adds that, when hungry, harlequin ladybirds will bite humans in their search for something edible. The bites usually produce a small bump and sting slightly. There are a few documented cases of people having a severe allergic reaction to the ladybirds.
The ladybirds are especially fond of grapes, and wineries sometimes find large numbers in the grape harvest, which are hard to separate from the grapes before pressing.
The region was previously hit by a ladybird invasion in 1976 when high numbers of insects infested towns and cities across the country following that year’s famous long hot summer.
Have you been affected by swarms of ladybirds? Email us your photos and videos.