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Last Updated: Tuesday December 27 2005 13:05 GMT

Call to protect native ladybird

A Harlequin ladybird (Natural History Museum)
British ladybirds need more protection or they could be completely wiped out, say conservationists.

Charity Buglife say that three species of native ladybirds are seriously threatened by the harlequin ladybird which arrived in the UK two years ago.

The south-east Asian variety is bigger and greedier, and threatens the native species by eating all their food.

Buglife wants the government to do more to protect the common seven spot and two spot, and the rarer five spot bug.

Greedy

What do harlequins in Britain look like?
orange with between 15 and 20 spots
black with two orange or red spots
black with four orange or red spots
they all have a white plate with a big black M-shaped marking on it, just behind the head
The charity says the harlequin also damages crops by eating fruit.

And they love eating green fly, which can leave the native ladybirds with nothing left to eat.

Worse still, the harlequin will even eat smaller ladybirds if food runs out.

The invader also preys on other types of insects, eating butterfly eggs, caterpillars and lacewing larvae.



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