Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cannibal harlequin ladybirds now threaten native species with STDs

Scientists have warned about the unknown effect this fungal infection may have on the already beleaguered native population

Saturday 18 October 2014

Cannibal harlequin ladybirds are posing a new threat to Britain’s native species after scientists warned the variety was spreading a virulent sexually transmitted fungal infection.

Scottish scientists are concerned the insect fungus, which is transmitted primarily through mating, may be passed onto native species from the non-indigenous type with unpredictable consequences, the Scotsman reports.

Many harlequin ladybirds are already suffering from the Laboulbeniales fungal infection, according to studies conducted by the University of Stirling’s departments of biological and environmental sciences with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Researcher Matt Tinsley said: “The study will allow us to know where this fungus has spread to and what proportion of native and invasive ladybirds are infected.”

The number of harlequin ladybirds has greatly increased in recent years after they were first seen in the UK in 2004 when they were imported to Europe from East Asia for commercial pest control of crops.

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