Ladybirds are colourful little insects – and it seems some of them lead colourful lives too.

For experts say many of the Harlequin Ladybirds finding their way here from Asia and North America on mild autumn winds are carrying an STD.

Areas across Britain are reporting lots of ladybirds in the unseasonably mild weather.

And on Teesside, social media is buzzing with reports of mini invasions.

Ladybirds spotted in Norton (Image: LeanneSimmonPhoto)

Billingham and Norton seem to be hotspots, with pictures sent to Teesside Live showing the red and black bugs at St Mary’s Church and Parish Centre.

Whether foreign or home-grown, the creepy-crawlies have been seen clustering around boilers, window frames and smoke detectors.

And they’re not averse to flying inside living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms.

But if the ladybirds you see are slightly bigger than normal, or have blacker wings, they may be Harlequin Ladybirds – and they hide a saucy secret.

For the foreign invaders, which first came to the UK from North America in summer 2004, pose a threat to the domestic species because they carry a sexually-transmitted condition – laboulbeniales fungal disease.

Steve McGrail, director of pest control company Pro Kill Environment, said Harlequins are not harmful to humans but recommended sealing windows to make sure they do not get in homes.

He said: “They are a non-indigenous species. They are coming inside in large numbers.”

Scientists say a fungus the creatures carry, which is passed on through mating, will infect our native species, which are already under threat from habitat loss.

It’s not yet known if the fungus is harmful, but the UK Ladybird Survey says the disease could affect the lifespan or the number of eggs a female can produce.

© 2018 Tees Info

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