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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March, 2005, 21:49 GMT
Native ladybird 'under threat'
Harmonia axyridis (Cambridge University)
The harlequin ladybird is known to be a "voracious predator"
The common British ladybird is under threat from a rival beetle, wildlife experts have warned.

A UK-wide survey to help protect the native beetle from the harlequin ladybird, known to be a "voracious predator," has been launched.

It is hoped the results will reveal how widely the harlequin has spread and what impact it has on ladybirds.

The study is being held by scientists at the University of Cambridge and Anglia Polytechnic University.

Dr Michael Majerus, of Cambridge University, said: "The harlequin is a deadly threat to our own British ladybirds. We need to monitor them closely in order to assess the spread and impact of the insect."

There are currently 46 species from the ladybird family in Britain and the arrival of the harlequin is believed to be a potential threat to them.

Scientists from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Natural History Museum, and The Wildlife Trusts are also participating in the survey.

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