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Invasive Species Alert – Harlequinn Ladybird

More Information – The Ladybird

  • Common name(s): Harlequin Ladybird, Multicoloured Asian Ladybird, Halloween Ladybug.
  • Why the concern? This is an invasive species of ladybird that was found at two sites in the Republic of Ireland during November 2010. Previous records came from 2007 and 2009 in Northern Ireland (inset map). If the harlequin ladybird becomes established, it will threaten native invertebrate diversity, could impact on the fruit production and be a nuisance in buildings.
  • What does it look like? Variable in colour (yellow to orange to red) (image B) and number of spots (0-20) (images A, C and D). At 6 – 8 mm long, they tend to be larger and more domed than most native ladybirds, normally with reddish brown legs. They may also have a distinctive ’M’ or ’W’ marking on the pronotum (back of head) (image D). Juveniles have an orange stripe on each side of their body (image E).
  • Where might I see it? Entering houses in winter (image C) where they can aggregate on windowsills and walls (image B); on imported vegetables, fruit or plants; and in gardens, woodlands, agricultural or horticultural lands.
  • Date Issued: December 2010
  • For more information or to report any sightings please email or visit

Why the concern? This is an invasive species of ladybird that was found at two sites in the Republic of Ireland during November 2010. Previous records came from 2007 and 2009 in Northern Ireland.


  • This Invasive Species Alert has been jointly issued by Invasive Species Ireland and the National Biodiversity Data Centre
  • Dr. Roy Anderson kindly verified the records which were reported by Ms. Rowna O’ Sullivan (for Cork City) and Angus Tyner (for Co. Wicklow)

Colette O’ Flynn (National Biodiversity Data Centre) and John Kelly (Invasive Species Ireland)


[From June 2010] Press Release – Early warning of invasion to Ireland!

Invasive species can wreak havoc to Ireland’s environment and cost millions to eradicate. In Europe the cost has been put a conservative cost of €10 billion annually. The only way to prevent further invasions is to coordinate action at the European scale. This will be the subject matter of a European workshop hosted by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and attended by representatives from 18 countries on June 1st and 2nd in Waterford.

Colette O’ Flynn, Manager of the National Invasive Species Database vehemently stresses the need to issue Species Alerts as soon as new species are detected to instigate a rapid response.  ‘This is the only way to deal effectively with invasive species as once introduced eradication of invasive species can be very difficult and costly.  In the past couple of years I have seen a very concerning rise in the number of invasive species arriving in Ireland that have caused havoc and huge cost in other countries worldwide’.

Recent Species Alerts were issued for:

  • Muntjac Deer (Muntiacus reevesi) which hails from China and is likely to have a devastating impact on our native woodland species and forest plantations
  • the Bloody Red Shrimp (Hemimysis anomala) from the Ponto-Caspian region which can be found is swarms of thousands per meter squared
  • Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) that has being devouring native ladybirds and other invertebrates in Britain
  • Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) has been seen in a few locations in Ireland and can impact wildlife, be a reservoir for many diseases and have a direct economic impact on agriculture and forest plantations.
  • The most recent Species Alert was issued for Asian Clam (Corbicula fluminea) found on April 13th in the River Barrow in its thousands and likely to impact on the spawning grounds of the Twaite Shad and salmonoid species.

In a bid to tackle the threat of potential invaders, a meeting of the European Network of Invasive Species network is holding a European Workshop on developing an Early Warning System for Invasive Alien Species.  It is hoped one of the outcomes of the workshop will be a coordinated pan-European system to track and alert invasive species developed with the European Environment Agency.

Colette O’ Flynn is particularly concerned about the likely damage that could result from the arrival of three species: Zander (Sander lucioperca), the Signal Crayfish (Pacificastacus leniusculus) and the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) which is causing widespread decimation of Ash trees in America.

To see what invasive species we have in Ireland and if any are in your area visit the National Invasive Species Database website  If you have seen and of the species listed above or any of the other listed invasive species please submit that information through the National Invasive Species Database website, if possible provide a photo.
Notes to Editor:

The National Invasive Species Database provides up-to-date centralised information on the distribution of invasive species in Ireland. It answers the questions: What invasive species do we have in Ireland? Where exactly are they? 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.

Invasive species are non-native species that have been introduced, generally by human intervention outside their natural range and whose establishment and spread can threaten native ecosystem structure, function and delivery of services.  Once introduced, control, management and eradication where possible of invasive species can be very difficult and costly; therefore early detection and reactive measures are desirable.

Globally invasive species are considered to be the second greatest threat to biodiversity (after habitat loss and change). Globally, invasive non-native species have contributed to 40% of the animal extinctions that have occurred in the last 400 years (CBD, 2006).

Currently there is no overall figure of cost of the impact of invasive species for Ireland. Invasive non-native species are estimated to cost over £2 billion a year in Great Britain, €10 billion for Europe and an estimated $137 billion per year to the U.S. economy alone.

The National Invasive Species Database is joint funded by The Heritage Council and The Environmental Protection Agency and was established by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in 2008.

For more information contact the National Invasive Species Database Manager Colette O’ Flynn e-mail: or phone: 051 306240.

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biodiversity n the existance of a wide variety of plant and animal species in their natural environments

source: collins english dictionary [paperback edition]

Wikipedia goes a little more indept. I like the second sentence.

Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is one measure of the health of ecosystems.

To me and you what does it really mean…?

Some I know, have a rough idea that it’s a good green and in fashion buzz word to be aware of. But when quizzed on what, how or even further, what they can do as their little bit…. they honestly didn’t know. Doesn’t surprise me. Even I didn’t realise how biodiverse I already was.

The definitions are above…. but scroll down to the 10 things [below] you can do and you’ll really get a flavour for what it means and moreso what we as individuals can so simply do in any outdoors and in any season to help [y]our ecosystem.

What amazed me from feedback prior to writing this post and in reading up on that information given to me was the amount of Irish sites that either assume everyone understands what this is all about. Here’s the latest email….

Aparently butterfly numbers are up, or down Pete. I can’t remember. But I have no idea how they count them. I’ve less of an idea of what biodiversity is and how butterfly counting helps, or not!!

Sounds silly ? To some, maybe. But I can’t disagree with that. It is the reason I wrote this post and from here – with this as a basic basis post I can try and now delve a little deeper into the bigger picture.

Either or here’s the for starters post. Any questions or thoughts, just leave a comment below.

  • Plant a native tree this year – I did a list of Irelands native trees some time ago. The poll will tell you the most popular.
  • Put up a bird box – You can buy them but I perfer to make my own. How to put up and make your own bird box
  • Harvest rain water – This is really easy and you can buy them from most local councils with your bin tags and claim the tax back. Install a rainwater harvester
  • Water lawns and plants at night time that is, only if you really, really have to. Simple as it sounds. No link needed here. 

  • Allow some of your lawn or garden to grow wild– this is a great excuse for not cutting that part of the garden you don’t want to.
  • Make your own compost binI’m not a great fan of the plastic ones personally and I decided to build mine from some leftover timber.
  • Avoid using chemicals in your garden – once again, it’s a time and a money saver. Brilliant excuse for everything to look au natural
  • Build a log pile – it is as easy as it sounds. I simply stacked some dead branches that I pruned in a pile and forgot about them…. well, y’know what I mean
  • Grow a wildlife hedge – they’ll be back in fashion soon enough. Insects and wildlife can’t live on just vegetables and fruit….
  • Avoid petrol or electrical garden equipment – instead rake the leaves and use the old push mowers. Even better, you conserve your energy and get himself to do it