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Homes swarmed by ladybirds across Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 09:55 06 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:18 07 October 2018

Ladybirds swarming in a Norfolk home. Photo: Michelle Kitch

Ladybirds swarming in a Norfolk home. Photo: Michelle Kitch

Archant

People across Norfolk are reporting their homes are being invaded by ladybirds.

Ladybirds crawling on the window of a home in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally HarwoodLadybirds crawling on the window of a home in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally Harwood

Insect experts have suggested the recent hot weather has boosted the numbers of the harlequin ladybird species.

Posts on social media have described the swarms of insects, known as ‘bishy barnabees’, and show the ladybirds clustered inside and outside people’s homes all over the county.

Sheree Brown, from Litcham, said: “We’ve got loads in Litcham too, pesky little things.

“They fly in the house as soon as you undo the door.”

Becky Mills spotted ladybirds clustered around her door in West Raynham. Photo: Becky MillsBecky Mills spotted ladybirds clustered around her door in West Raynham. Photo: Becky Mills

Sally Harwood, from Gunthorpe, near Fakenham, said: “There were lots of sizes and colours including red, black, yellow and orange.

“Some had seven spots, some had five, some two and some none.”

She added: “They were really swarming and they were biting too.”

Peter Brown, from the UK Ladybird Survey, told the BBC: “If you’re getting large numbers of ladybirds coming into a building, they are very likely to be harlequins.”

Sheree Brown, from Litcham said: Sheree Brown, from Litcham said: "They fly in the house as soon as you undo the door." Photo: Sheree Brown

He added that other species normally hibernate throughout the winter in trees or fallen leaves.

It’s thought the Harlequin ladybirds, which first arrived in the UK in 2004 from Asia, hibernate over winter in buildings like homes that stay warm as the temperature drops.

Scientists say the creatures are mostly harmless and can be left alone if they are found in your house.

Norfolk was previously hit by a ladybird invasion in 1976 when a plague of the insects infested towns and cities across the country.

Ladybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally HarwoodLadybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally Harwood

And the region suffered again in 2009 after a boom in the bug’s numbers saw North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) forced to arrange street cleaners to remove the dead insects from roads and public places.

What are harlequin ladybirds?

Martin Collier, beetle recorder from the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society explained how to spot the species.

He said: “The seven spot ladybird has red wing cases with seven black spots: three on each and one joint spot where they meet at the base.

Ladybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally HarwoodLadybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally Harwood

“The harlequin comes in many different colour forms and although this includes one with red wing cases and black spots, it is never with seven spots.”

He added: “Nothing can be done to stop them swarming and landing on houses but obviously keeping doors and windows shut will help keep most of them out.

“They are not dangerous in any way, although when very hungry they may give a little nip if they land on you.

“Harlequins can exude a fluid when hibernating in numbers which can stain curtains.

Ladybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally HarwoodLadybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally Harwood

“They would taste very nasty if a child or pet tried to eat one. They are not brightly coloured for nothing – it’s a warning.”

He added: “There are so many of them due to the warm weather and good food availability of aphids.

“Summer swarms are usually either migration or because local food supplies are exhausted.

“At this time of the year it’s more likely to be in search of suitable hibernation sites, which for harlequins often means inside houses.”

Ladybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally HarwoodLadybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally Harwood

Have you been affected by the swarm of ladybirds in Norfolk? Email your pictures and videos to reporter Jessica.Frank-Keyes@archant.co.uk

Ladybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally HarwoodLadybirds swarming in Gunthorpe. Photo: Sally Harwood

A normal ladybird (left) and a harlequin ladybird (right). Pictures: Liz MurtonA normal ladybird (left) and a harlequin ladybird (right). Pictures: Liz Murton

Ladybird infestation. Picture: Julie RixLadybird infestation. Picture: Julie Rix

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