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Last Updated: Wednesday June 15 2011 05:51 GMT

Ladybirds declining according to study

Two-spot ladybird

Bad news for bugs - some of the UK's most common species of ladybirds are on the decline, according to a new book which maps the bugs' whereabouts.

The numbers of about 10 types of ladybirds have been going down over the past 20 years.

They include the ones you might see in your garden - the 14-spot and 10-spot ladybirds.

And since the Asian Harlequin ladybird came to the UK in 2004, the two-spot ladybird has also been in decline.

The Harlequins were brought to the country to control pests - but they also take the food and hunt the eggs of smaller ladybirds.

What do Harlequins in Britain look like?
Harlequin ladybirds
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

Experts think the arrival of the Harlequins is behind the decline in other ladybirds, but also changes to habitat and the climate could be to blame.

The study looked at all 47 species of ladybirds and five types were on the increase, such as the orange ladybird which feeds on mildew so may have benefitted from a warmer climate with hotter, wetter weather providing more of its food.

This is the first time a study's looked at ladybirds' across the UK. It took six years to complete and lots of people took part by monitoring the bugs.