Harlequin Ladybird Project
The UK Harlequin Ladybird Survey was established to track the spread of the invasive alien ladybird, Harmonia axyridis. The project was established by Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University through the NBN Trust and with start-up funding from Defra. The rapid initiation of this project, in response to the first UK sighting of the harlequin ladybird enabled high resolution distribution data to be gathered, documenting the spread of this species from the time of its arrival.
Volunteer engagement has been critical to the success of this project. Members of the public register their sightings of harlequin ladybirds on the Survey website. Records are then verified by one of the survey co-ordinators through either digital photographs or ladybird specimens. The website has been designed to instruct the public in identification and also provides regular updates on the progress of the harlequin and related research.
The Harlequin Ladybird Survey has also benefited from the latest web-based technology. Data is transferred regularly to the NBN Gateway and a current map is displayed on the survey website. Furthermore, scientists from CEH and Cambridge University are now using the survey to understand more complex aspects of the ecology of the harlequin ladybird within the UK.
There is no doubt that without public involvement this unique dataset would not have been achieved. Over 20,000 harlequin ladybird records (many of multiple individuals) have been logged since the survey was launched in March 2005 and there are currently over 10,000 observations on the Gateway.