The Harlequin Ladybird Survey
Harlequin ladybird elytra
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Emma Rhule

Position

PhD Student

Organisation

Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge

Ladybird research keywords

Harmonia axyridis, Coccipolipus hippodamiae, sexually transmitted disease, biological control, host-parasite interactions.

Description of work

The aim of my PhD is to assess the potential of the sexually-transmitted mite, Coccipolipus hippodamiae, as a biocontrol agent of the invasive ladybird, Harmonia axyridis. This mite is known to induce sterility in infected females of a number of coccinellids, notably the 2-spot ladybird, Adalia bipunctata. I am interested to see whether this same effect occurs in the Harlequin and whether it could play a role in reducing population numbers. Before a programme of release could be considered, a number of factors must be considered including whether the desired reduction in population numbers would occur and the potential knock on effects on native coccinellids. I am also interested in studying this system at the genetic level to compare populations of C. hippodamiae on different host species and in different host ranges to elucidate any genetic differentiation that may have arisen as a result of host-parasite coevolution.

Key publications

Rhule, E. L., Majerus, M. E. N. & Ware, R. W. Potential use of the sexually-transmitted mite Coccipolipus hippodamiae (Acaridae: Podopolipidae) in controlling populations of the invasive ladybird Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) (in prep)

Mites

Is it possible that Emma prefers these mites to ladybirds?

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