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  Too late to stop deadly ladybirds
Updated 14 October 2004, 16.15
Harmonia axyridis or Harlequin ladybird (Cambridge University)
An invasion of Asian ladybirds that could wipe out our native species has been going on for months, researchers have found out.

The alarm was raised last month after a single foreign harlequin ladybird was discovered in an Essex garden.

Bug expert Dr Majeras asked people to send him any suspicious looking bugs and since then many more have been discovered around the country.

He believes that it could now be too late to stop the invaders.

The harlequins have been found in London, Folkestone, Ipswich, Newmarket and Canterbury, some were at least two or three months old.

Can't stop the bugs

The UK's seven-spotted ladybird
The UK's seven-spotted ladybird
He told The Daily Telegraph newspaper: "My opinion last week was that if we caught the influx early enough, we might have been able to eradicate it.

"Now I think there is no chance at all. Instead, we have to look at damage limitation."

The Harlequin is very aggressive and if it runs out of aphids to snack on it will turn on native ladybirds and eat them.

Dr Majeras believes the 20 British ladybird species could be pushed to extinction.

He still wants people to send suspicious looking ladybirds to him.

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