Spot The Alien Species

Lilioceris lilii leaf damage 2001 J.O.Sullivan

Nature and garden lovers around the country are being asked to report sightings of 3 invasive alien species that may be seen in their area. The Spot the Alien recording scheme is a new initiative being launched by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

I got this in from Colette

Hi Peter,
I hope all is good with you.

I just wanted to let you know about the ‘Spot the Alien’ recording scheme that the National Biodiversity Data Centre has just launched. We have put out a call for help for people to report valuable sightings of three species most likely to be seen in gardens but could be found in the wild.

I thought your blog followers may be interested in this.

Attached is the press release and the Spot the Alien poster but for full information on the scheme, the three species and to submit sightings people can go to

All the best,

Harmonia axyridis f. succinea Brian Power-2011

According to the schemes coordinator, Colette O’ Flynn,

…the sightings that people submit can provide valuable data to help us understand the level of invasion, distribution and spread of these alien species in Ireland.

Spot the Alien aims to gather information on three invasive species:

  • New Zealand flatworm which devours our hard working native earthworms and has a very flat sticky dark body, with two pointed ends and speckled edges.
  • The Harlequin ladybird which is highly variable in looks but is larger than most of our native ladybirds which it eats, can overwinter in houses in the hundreds to thousands as seen in England.
  • The Red lily beetle that damages the gardeners much loved lily and fritillary plants but which is very noticeable by its vibrant red with a black head, legs and antennae.

Harmonia axyridis f. spectabilis C. O' Flynn-2010

Ms. O’ Flynn notes:

it is widely recognised that invasive species are one of the world’s greatest threats to biodiversity and have socio-economic impacts”. Recent reports have shown that the cost of alien invasive species in Europe is over €12 billion per year and costs the British economy £1.7 billion per year.

Failing to prevent invasive species being introduced into Ireland we need to detect their presence as soon as possible.

People all over Ireland can do their bit to contribute data to better inform the development of our response to and research of invasive species

All sightings submitted will be sent to experts Dr. Roy Anderson and Dr. Archie Murchie for verification.

Ms. Cliona O’ Brien, Wildlife Officer with the Heritage Council said:

The data provided by public recording schemes is very valuable. The importance of every record you submit shouldn’t be under-estimated. I urge everyone to get involved in spotting these species and submitting their sighting to the Invasive Species Database.

Go to to get more information on the Spot the Alien scheme, the species and to submit sightings. To assist with verification please submit a photo if possible.

Other Points you may find of intrigue:

  • A similar public recording scheme targeted at the New Zealand flatworm in Northern Ireland resulted in finding out that its distribution was widespread in Northern Ireland.
  • To date, the Red lily beetle has only been reported from the Cork City area in the Republic of Ireland. It
    was first recorded on the island of Ireland in Belfast in 2002.
  • The Harlequin ladybird has been dubbed ‘the most invasive ladybird on Earth’ and ‘the fastest spreading invasive insect in Europe’. It is also listed as one of Europe’s 100 of the Worst Invasive Species by the EU funded project ‘Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe’.
  • The scientific name of the New Zealand flatworm is Arthurdendyus triangulatus, the scientific name for
    Red lily beetle is Lilioceris lilii and the scientific name for Harlequin ladybird is Harmonia axyridis.
  • The database has been developed as a resource to assist recording, monitoring and surveillance programmes, and provides the infrastructure for development of an early warning system for invasive species.
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