Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Aphid colony duration does not limit the abundance of Harmonia axyridis in the Mediterranean area.

Abstract

There is a lot of information on the factors limiting the distributions of species in their native areas, but much less on those limiting potential changes in distributions of species that are currently spreading outside their present range, especially invasive species. However, this information is often quite essential, as it enables the prediction of future spatial distributions and local abundances of invasive species and the potential effect they may have on people and crops. Arising from glasshouse escapes in North America and the Netherlands, the invasive ladybird, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), originally from the east Palearctic, has now spread across the whole of North America and most of Europe, both of which caused serious concern. Recent observations show that the spread of H. axyridis towards the equator is limited. For example, it is quite rare in the Mediterranean area and its northward spread in South America is also quite slow, as if there was something limiting its spread towards the equator. European literature indicates it is neither climate, nor the distance of the Mediterranean from the original release location in the Netherlands. Therefore, we hypothesized that it may be biotic factors. In particular, the duration of colonies of prey (colony is the set of individuals in one patch, usually on one plant) that becomes shorter as one approaches the equator. This may lower the fitness of the predator and subsequently lead to low population densities. We test here, whether the duration of aphid colonies is shorter in the Mediterranean area than in Central Europe. Unfortunately, our data does not support this hypothesis. Therefore, the question of what limits the distribution of H. axyridis towards the equator remains to be resolved.