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Harlequin Ladybirds

Tuesday, February 7th 2012

First spotted in the UK in 2004, the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) has undergone a population explosion.  Successive wet summers have provided ideal conditions for them to breed, and once confined to south-east England, they are now found as far north as Scotland.  Having virtually no predators, due to much higher levels of toxins than other ladybirds, also being less susceptible to infections and parasites than native ladybirds has helped fuel the rapid population growth. 

They show a huge variation in colouring and marking. 75% of Harlequins are orange with 15-21 black spots though some are yellow, some red and others black.

This insect is a top predator within its food web, and interacts with many other species.  Researchers have stated that it poses a major threat to all 45 of the UK's native ladybird species, with over 1000 other species also detrimentally affected.

They feed most commonly on aphids, though when this food supply runs low they also eat other ladybird eggs, larvae and pupae, butterfly and moth eggs and caterpillars.  Larger than most and with a wider food range they are able to outcompete the majority of our native ladybirds, in particular the Two-Spot (Adalia bipunctata), whose population fell by 44% in the UK in the five years following the Harlequin's arrival.

Not only a problem to wildlife, there have been reports of infestations of sometimes thousands of these ladybirds in homes.  Harlequins in houses, woken from dormancy by central heating, may bite people as there is no food available. The bites usually produce a small bump and sting slightly.

Luckily these have not been seen on the reserve, where we have 12 native species recorded.  If you spot any please report them to The Harlequin Ladybird Survey which monitors their numbers and spread though the UK.

The snow has started to thaw and volunteers were able to continue with tree planting. At the end of the day the mist came in from the moor and it seemed very dark. The access road is much better today but please note that due to maintenance work on the barrier, access to the reserve will be via Bourlon Barracks on Plumer Road tomorrow.

Winter Scene


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The Friends of Foxglove Covert is for those individuals, families and organisations who would like to support the reserve through an annual membership subscription. Friends receive a regular newsletter and invitations to attend our various activities and social events.

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Meadow Mayhem CANCELLED

Saturday 4th July 2020 | 10.00am - 12 noon

The events programme has been temporarily withdrawn. For up to date information this website, FaceBook and other forms of social media should be consulted. If you have donated in advance to secure a place on an event you will be contacted over the next few days and offered a refund. We apologise for this inconvenience.

Celebrate National Meadows Day!

Join us for a morning exploring the many wildflower meadows found at Foxglove. We will be learning how to ID wildflowers and grasses, as well as sweep netting for butterflies and insects and identifying them. This event is part of the Flowers of the Dales Festival

A minimum donation of £5 per person in advance to guarantee a place. Card payments can be taken by phone.

This event is free for Volunteers and Friends of the reserve.



Damsels and Dragons CANCELLED

Sunday 19th July 2020 | 1.00pm start

The events programme has been temporarily withdrawn. For up to date information this website, FaceBook and other forms of social media should be consulted. If you have donated in advance to secure a place on an event you will be contacted over the next few days and offered a refund. We apologise for this inconvenience.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a Dragonfly and a Damselfly? Can you tell the difference between the different species of blue damselfly? Would you like to learn more about theses fascinating animals that have been around since prehistoric times? Join Keith Gittens for a walk around the beautiful Foxglove ponds (some of which are usually out of bounds to visitors) and observe as many different species as you can. Last year, a new species for the reserve was discovered on this event!

Booking is essential as places are limited. There is a donation of £5 per person to be paid in advance in order to secure a place. Payments now can be made on the phone.

This event is free for Volunteers and Friends of the reserve.



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The Dragonflies of Strensall and Foxglove Covert
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This book has been published with the aim of enabling people visiting these, immensely important Flagship Pond Sites in North Yorkshire, to identify the dragonflies and damselflies they encounter - by reference to a simple text and photographs. Credits - Yorkshire Dragonfly Group & Freshwater Habitats Trust

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