​Millions Of Ladybirds With STDs Due To Hit UK

Spring has finally sprung, and in theory this should eventually mean an influx of warmer weather.

But along with such warmer climes also comes the invasion of millions of Harlequin ladybirds from Asia, which carry an STD known as Laboulbeniales fungal disease.

"It's called laboulbenia, and it is a fungus that forms little scales on the wing cases on the outside of the ladybird," said Max Barclay, Senior Curator of Beetles at the National History Museum.

"You can actually see it with your naked eye and so can tell whether the ladybird is infected.

"It just looks like a yellow crust on some parts of the ladybird's exoskeleton."

A harlequin ladybird. Credit: PA
A harlequin ladybird. Credit: PA

While it's not clear how harmful the STD could be for the UK's population of ladybirds, the UK Ladybird Survey believes it could affect lifespan or even the number of eggs a female ladybird can produce - potentially concerning, considering that native species are already threatened by habitat loss.

Don't worry, though: unsurprisingly, they won't be posing much of a threat to you - or your sexual health, for that matter. I mean, duh.

The insects are generally not harmful to people, and will only really bite if food is not available, which could result in a small bump or sting. People can have allergic reactions to the bites, but this is only in extreme cases.

However, in terms of STDs, you should be all good.

At the time of another recent invasion, a sexual health doctor explained to LADbible that the Harlequin species of ladybirds often struggle 'with a form of fungal infection, known as Laboulbeniales disease'.

"This creates yellow finger-like projections to the legs and body of the ladybird," they said.

"Sensationalised headlines talking about 'Ladybird STDs' has led several patients to attend sexual health services concerned about acquiring the infection."

The doctor continued: "Laboulbeniales disease is a fungal infection that only affects arthropods such as insects, centipedes, and millipedes. The poor Ladybird isn't the only species affected and is suffering from some pretty harsh stigma with reports of 'promiscuous behaviour' and 'disease ridden sex romps' only increasing concerns among patients.

"Some patients have been concerned around transmission to themselves but human spread isn't possible and Laboulbeniales disease is not known to be harmful in humans.

"In times when sexual health services are facing tremendous budget cuts and public health funding had been reduced by £531 million in total between 2015/16 and 2019/2020, pressure on sexual health services has never been greater."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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