Saturday Snapshots #22

2008-LadybirdWeb 

Illegal alien – Galena, Illinois – October 2008

When we were in Chicago last year, we drove out to Galena for the weekend and stopped at the Chestnut Mountain Resort on the banks of the Mississippi River.  While I was waiting for Nick, I snapped this little guy, and I was surprised to find he wasn't the only ladybird around.  When we got to our rented house, we found literally swarms of them, hurling themselves against the fly screens and crawling around the rooms.  I had never seen anything like it in my life.

Turns out this is an Asiatic or Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), introduced from Asia into the US at various times from the early 1900s to the 1980s to control plant pests including aphids and scale insects.  So far so good.  What wasn't on the label was the fact that these insects are voracious feeders and have swept across the US, quickly becoming by far the most common ladybird species. Their increase in numbers has proved to be a catastrophe for native North American ladybirds as Harlequins consume their prey. The Harlequin ladybird is also partial to overwintering inside houses in huge numbers and have come to be regarded as an unwelcome annual invasion on par with wasps.  Their defecations, and nasty habit of secreting some of their own foul-smelling blood when threatened, can destroy upholstery, curtains and wallpaper. The Harlequin ladybird now roams across not only its native Asia and North America, but also the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Poland and Scandanavia with numbers soaring annually.  They are now the dominant ladybird species in the UK and have even arrived in South Africa.   

This is part of a series of non-food photographs that will be published every Saturday on CookSister. Click here for a full list of photographs previously featured.

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  1. says

    I really do enjoy you photos! Thanks for the interesting info, I have always loved ladybirds however I hope this one doesn’t take over our South African locals!

  2. says

    I feel so fortunate to have found your interesting blog today. And as for these bugs, they are horrible. Their stink is not very nice and they are pests. They seem to come out in the fall as the weather gets cooler. At least this was the situation in the upper midwest of America. I saw them once this fall in Florida and they were swarming all around. A very bad visitor to the states.

  3. says

    And I thought all ladybirds were harmless and cute! Haven’t seen any here I don’t thing, but now I’m going to have to look at any one I see more carefully -checking it for alien qualities!

  4. says

    That’s a stunning Saturday snapshot Jeanne, ever so pretty. Love the trivia behind it too. We have plenty of red ones here & a few brownish orange ones…havn’t seen one like this before though!

  5. says

    How nice to find another South African blogger and a foodie at that! Who needs Martha Stewart any way? I popped over from the MaX Files in PE. He has kindly posted a nice little list of fellow country men/women just when I was beginning to think Bloggieland was only inhabited by my North American friends. I shall be back to browse your recipes!

  6. says

    Ladybird’s are such cute insects. We used to play with them when we were kids, they are the only insect which did not scare me. Your shot is super!!!