Predation of native coccinellids by the invasive alien Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae): detection in Britain by PCR-based gut analysis
Abstract. 1. The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, is an invasive alien species that arrived in Britain in 2003 and has spread across most of the country. 2. This spread has been accompanied by a decline in some native coccinellid species, in particular, the two spot ladybird Adalia bipunctata and the ten spot ladybird Adalia decempunctata. One reason for this decline could be intraguild predation (IGP) of the Adalia species by H. axyridis. 3. A DNA-based approach was used to look for evidence of coccinellid IGP in the wild. Adalia bipunctata- and A. decempunctata-specific Polymerase chain reaction primers were developed to analyse the gut contents of field collected H. axyridis larvae for the presence of Adalia DNA. Harmonia axyridis larvae (156) were collected from lime trees at four sites in eastern England over 3 years. 4. Adalia bipunctata DNA was detected in 7.7% and A. decempunctata DNA in 4.5% of H. axyridis larvae. DNA from both Adalia species was detected in two larvae. 5. This is the first demonstration of specific IGP interactions between H. axyridis and other coccinellid species in wild populations in Britain.