Swarms of unusual looking ladybirds have invaded our shores, but many people have been left wondering where they have come from, and questioning if we should be wary of what they could pass on.
The bugs are Harlequin ladybirds, a non-native species which vary in colour.
Most you will be seeing though are black with red spots or orange with black spots.
And if you are thinking they are new to this country, then you would be wrong. The Harlequin was first recorded in the UK in 2004, but there have been an unusually high number of them this Autumn.
Where have the bugs come from?
The bugs have come over from Asia and getwestlondon spoke to Helen Roy from the UK Ladybird Survey.
She said: "They were introduced as a biological control agent of pest insects such as aphids into mainland Europe.
"They found their way to the UK hitch-hiking on produce and in packaging but also flew across the channel."
How do they differ from other ladybirds?
The Harlequin ladybirds are slightly different to the red ladybird that we are used to seeing in our back gardens.
Helen who is a professor at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said: "The harlequin ladybird is quite a big ladybird (6mm) whereas some others are much smaller (2mm to 3mm)."
They also have brown legs rather than black and Helen notes "it also has a black M shape marking behind the head on a white background."
Are we at risk of an STD?
Rumour has it the insects are carrying an STD, but Helen has said it is something we do not need to be worried about
"Like all species, ladybirds are host to some diseases and parasites – one of these is an amazing fungus that is transmitted during mating but also when the ladybirds group together," she said.
"This fungus is found on our native two-spot ladybirds and some other beetles but is not transmitted to other species – certainly it is no risk to humans at all."
The fungus is from a group called Laboulbeniales which is transmitted through contact such as mating, and during the winter months when the ladybirds group together.
It is a fungus which is not exclusive to the Harlequin ladybird, all species are subject to parasites and diseases.
Helen reassures that "Harlequin ladybirds are at worst a minor human nuisance because they aggregate in places that can be inconvenient to some people."
And this is a nuisance which some people across the country, including in West London have experienced.
Chris Gutch posted a video to Instagram showing the ladybirds at his home in Chiswick.
Others have taken to social media to comment on the insects which have arrived in London.
How long can we expect to be plagued by the ladybirds?
The ladybirds are expected to settle into their winter habitats over the next week, but if the weather remains mild, they may be here for longer.
However, with a frosty winter forecast, soon the bugs will hide away.
But look out for them in spring when they head out to the wider countryside in search of food and mates.
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