Harlequin ladybirds

by Pippa Greenwood

[...] this year, while tidying the house I noticed large numbers of dead ladybirds on the window sills.

Harlequin ladybird  larva and pupa, photo taken by Richard JonesFor the last few years I've noticed large numbers of harlequin ladybirds (pictured, left) visiting my garden in summer, and then hibernating inside my window frames over winter.

The window frames also provide winter shelter for lacewings and many of the native ladybirds too and - as I'm not too good at killing anything (except houseflies and horseflies) - I don't disturb them. But this year, while tidying the house I noticed large numbers of dead ladybirds on the window sills. I presumed they had fallen victim to the extremely cold temperatures last month, even on the inside of the house. On closer inspection, I noticed that the vast majority of dead ladybirds were harlequins, and there were still a few seemingly healthy native species on the curtains.

I carefully inspected the contents of one of most popular window frames for insect hibernation, and the same seemed to be true: most native ladybirds are fine and most harlequins are dead.  I have a feeling Mother Nature may have been taking action, and perhaps the exotic, invasive harlequins have met their match with our harsh winter weather. I wonder how the citrus longhorn beetle has fared this winter. Luckily we don’t have those in the window frames, or I would be worried!

Native 7-spot ladybirds on a leafI'd love to know if your findings have been the same. Perhaps our extreme winter weather will see a decline of harlequins and a boost in numbers of our native (pictured, left) ladybirds.

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Gardeners' World Web User 13/01/2011 at 17:45

Thanks for that observation, Pippa. Have likewise noticed the number of Harlequins hibernating in our large conservatory window frames. Bit of a slob though, and haven't dusted for a while but now you have given me a genuine gardening related reason for donning those marigolds and getting out the feather duster!! Will get back to you.....

Gardeners' World Web User 13/01/2011 at 22:25

As this species originated in Siberia amongst other places, I doubt it is the cold alone that is killing them.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/01/2011 at 14:47

I have exactly the same problem of ladybirds on my windoill since last couple of years. I keep vaccuming but they keep flourishing. Like Pippa I am not good at killing anything. Idon't know how to get rid of them.

Gardeners' World Web User 15/01/2011 at 20:31

i was reading all the above last night and today while i was cleaning the windows,i found 4 dead ladybirds they look like the picture you have showing,they were in the seals of the windows and 1 was in the seal of the back door......why didnt they go to there lady bug hotel that we have around the garden is it because the doors/windows are warmer and dry.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/01/2011 at 01:36

I have a herd of ladybirds in my bedroom. They're quite active, walking around the window, across the ceiling and sometimes on the bed. I think they're harlequins though I'm not sure, but they're certainly still feeding. I have a pot of Stevia, a herb, overwintering by the window, and was horrified to find it smothered in aphids a while ago. Then the ladybirds arrived and hey presto! no aphids. They did a similar job on my aubergines in the greenhouse last summer, dealing with a heavy infestation on 15 plants. (I like aubergines!) I know they're a threat to our natives but it's hard to complain when they help me out so efficiently.

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