Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Harlequin ladybird

I didn't get to post a new bug yesterday, so I have to do two posts today.

Our first bug today is a well-known beetle which is actually native to eastern Asia, and was introduced to North America and Europe to control aphids. Unfortunately, this species has itself become a pest. For example in the autumn, these beetles can aggregate in large numbers in vineyards and, if they are harvested along with the grapes, they release a chemical compound with the complicated name methoxypyrazine that can spoil the aroma and taste of the wine. 

This species is also known to invade homes in October in preparation for winter, a phenomenon which earned it the common name of “Halloween lady beetle”. Fittingly they are of orange colour with black spots. They try to overwinter indoors and there also have been reports that they occasionally bite humans.

Their scientific name is Harmonia axyridis.  I am not sure if Harmonia the ancient Greek goddess of harmony would like this ever hungry namesake so much. This beetle specie is also known to attack competitors.

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