HARLEQUIN LADYBIRDS 'NOT CURRENTLY A PROBLEM'
The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust has said that the invasive Harlequin ladybirds are not currently a problem on the islands.
It has been reported in the national press that "swarms" of the multi-coloured species are coming in from the cold across the UK, "carrying diseases with them".
Harlequins are believed to be responsible for the decline of at least seven native ladybirds, with the familiar two-spot down 50% in the last decade. Dr Helen Roy of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has described them as the "fastest-spreading alien species on record that I can think of".
However, the IOSWT said that Harlequins have not been seen in large numbers on Scilly.
Nikki Banfield said: "To the best of our knowledge there have only been two records of Harlequin Ladybirds on the Islands one in 2009-2010 (ish) and one last year; it is likely that these were transported in on freight or just ended up here by chance, being blown off course.
"Luckily for us, at this moment in time, they do not seem to be a problem here on the Islands, like they are for the rest of the country."
She added that it is always useful for people to be aware of them and report any “suspicious” sightings to the relevant organisations.
"If anyone spots (no pun intended) what they think may be a Harlequin Ladybird (details on ID can be found on the harlequin-survey.org website) then we would recommend they take a picture and send it in to us at the Trust along with date/time/location etc and we can let the relevant individuals know on the Island and get a confirmed ID."
People can also record sightings through harlequin-survey.org or download the App - either the generic iRecord App where all wildlife sightings can be recorded or the Ladybird-specific iRecordLadybirds.
Nikki said: "Now that we have 4G recording of wildlife sightings on the Islands is so much easier and it would be fantastic if more people could snap a picture and use Apps like iRecord whilst they’re out and about."