Azara Blog: Harlequin ladybirds threatened by "conservation" body

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Date published: 2005/12/27

The BBC says:

A foreign species of ladybird is threatening to drive three native British varieties to extinction, conservationists say.

The harlequin species, which arrived two years ago from continental Europe, is larger than British varieties and threatens them by taking their food.

The seven spot and the two spot, which until recently were common, are under threat along with the rarer five spot.

Charity Buglife wants the government to do more to protect these UK varieties.

The Peterborough-based charity, also known as the Invertebrate Conservation Trust, says the harlequin also damages crops by eating fruit.

A survey was launched at the National History Museum back in March to track the spread of the voracious predator known to easily out-compete home bugs for food.

Wildlife enthusiasts were asked to monitor their gardens for the harlequin which is black and red or orange and black.

Buglife director Matt Shardlow said at the time: "The harlequin may sound like a bit of a jester but there is nothing funny about it at all.

"There're a whole lot of problems it will bring with it. It out-competes native species and eats them.

"Everyone should be vigilant for the species and record where it is."

The insect - originally from south-east Asia - has a huge appetite for greenfly, leaving little for native ladybirds who then starve.

Worse still, organisers of the survey said, the harlequin would turn on other ladybirds if food resources diminished for the whole population.

The invader will also prey on other types of insects, eating butterfly eggs, caterpillars and lacewing larvae.

Presumably when the charity asks the government "to do more" what they want is a campaign of extermination against the harlequin. It's always amazing that "nature" organisations seem so fond of interfering with and controlling Mother Nature. And there doesn't seem to be a shortage of greenfly in the world (ask any gardener), so is the harlequin really causing a problem? Once again you have to ask whether any proposed "solution" is worse than the "problem" (especially given the cost of any "solution") and it is up to these advocacy groups to prove to reasonable certainty that it is.

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