01 November 2014
Can you spare a moment to help researchers at The University of Stirling and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology? There’s news on the Harlequin ladybird front – they appear to be under attack from a fungal infection previously only found attacking native ladybird species. Right now ladybirds are hibernating or just about to. If you look behind your curtains, in the shed, inside window frames, in garages etc you are likely to spot them. Please take a closer look at all ladybirds and see how they are looking.
The infection is a type of laboulbeniales infection, called Hesperomyces virescens and it is transmitted when ladybirds are physically close to each other – so that could mean as they huddle together over the winter or as they mate.Yes, a sexually transmitted disease of ladybirds!
Infected ladybirds show yellow finger-like projections ( crystalline in appearance).As it is most often transmitted as they mate, these yellow projections are most common on the backs of the females and on the undersides of the males, especially between the rear legs.
Initially the disease was restricted to the native ladybird species, in particular the 2-spot ladybirds, and mainly in the London area. But now it is elsewhere, including Oxfordshire, and also on the Harlequin ladybirds. Some may have extensive symptoms, other may be more subtly attacked, so you may need to look closely to spot it.
The researchers working on this need to know more – so that they can find out about the effects of the disease and plot the extent and spread of the infection and clarify which species it is attacking. So, can you help and go on a ladybird search and then report your finding? To complete the survey just visit http://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/enter-Hesperomyces-records If you can take a photograph too, they’d also appreciate that…so go on, do your bit for research and nature!