A call for help to Spot the Alien
The National Biodiversity Data Centre has launched the “Spot the Alien” recording scheme and nature and garden lovers are being asked to report sightings of three invasive alien species which may have been seen in their area. The three species targeted are the New Zealand flatworm, the harlequin ladybird and the distinctive red lily beetle in its programme.
Data centre schemes co-ordinator Colette O’Flynn said sightings provided by the public can provide valuable data to help understand the level of invasion, distribution and spread of these species in Ireland.
Ms O’Flynn added that the New Zealand flatworm kills our hard-working native earthworms in large quantities and the harlequin ladybird has been dubbed “the most invasive ladybird on Earth”. This ladybird is highly variable in looks but is larger than most of our native ladybirds, which it eats. It can winter in houses in the hundreds of thousands as it has done in England.
Ms O’Flynn said the distinctive red lily beetle damages lilies and fritillary plants but is noticeable by its vibrant red with a black head, legs and antennae.
It is widely recognised that invasive species are one of the world’s greatest threats to biodiversity and have socio-economic impacts. Recent reports have shown the cost of alien invasive species in Europe is over € 12 billion per year and costs the British economy £1.7 billion per year. Failing to prevent invasive species being introduced into Ireland, we must now detect their presence as a matter of urgency.
Heritage Council Wildlife Officer Cliona O’Brien said the data provided by public recording schemes was very valuable. “The importance of every record you submit should not be underestimated. I urge everyone to get involved in spotting these species and submitting their sighting to the invasive species database,” she said.
Sightings can be submitted to http://invasives.biodiversityireland.ie where more information on Spot the Alien is available. The public is also asked to submit photographs, if possible, to assist verification.