Space Invaders

LadybugI loved yesterday’s blog about Craig Knight, an academic who discovered that office worker’s who personalised their working space were happier and more productive than those who worked in an unpersonalised space. However I also find it disconcerting when hot desking and having to gaze upon unfamiliar faces peeking from mouse mats and mugs, and goodness knows what secrets are kept in the drawers. I feel like an intruder in someone else’s space; an imposter on a foreign desk.

As I pen this blog there are intruders invading my personal space. A harlequin ladybird crawls across the computer screen and a cluster fly taps lazily at the window. The fly gets swotted immediately but I have almost given up trying to evict the Harlequins from my home. The invasive ladybirds hide in the sash windows, lay their eggs and creep out in their dozens. A spritz of insecticide will cause ladybird casualties but the tiny harlequin eggs are far more difficult to get rid of.

Harlequin ladybirds are harmless to humans but pose a real threat to native ladybirds. Yesterday the BBC reported that native UK ladybirds were facing near extinction. A study discovered that seven out of the eight native British species they studied have declined, with issues also identified in Belgium and Switzerland. The report estimated that numbers of the two-spotted ladybird (Adalia bipunctata) fell by 44% in the UK and 30% in Belgium in the five years following the harlequin’s arrival.

Native ladybird species produce just one generation per year, but the harlequin has as many as five generations per year which is why it has become so prolific so quickly. Not much eats the harlequin either as it emits a nasty stink. Harlequin ladybirds eat aphids but they also eat the eggs and larvae of butterflies and moths, putting these species at risk too.

Which pests have been pestering your personal space?

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  1. Keith Birkemeyer

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