In 2004 the first record of a new ladybird for Britain was received. But not just any ladybird: the harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, the most invasive ladybird on Earth.
The harlequin ladybird, native to Asia, was introduced to North America in 1916 but became established much later in 1988. It is now a common and widespread ladybird species on the continent. It has also invaded much of Europe and South America and parts of Africa.
There are 46 species of ladybird (Coccinellidae) resident in Britain and our recent research (using data collated through the UK Ladybird Survey) has demonstrated a possible link between arrival of the harlequin ladybird and declines in a number of these (Roy et al. 2012). The UK Ladybird Survey will continue to monitor the spread of the harlequin ladybird across Britain and use the information collated to further understand biological invasions.
Thank you to everyone who has sent records so far - thousands of people are contributing their observations of ladybirds to the UK Ladybird Survey. If you would like to get involved please submit your sightings to iRecord or download the iRecord Ladybirds app.