REPORTS of 'ladybird invasions' have been filling social media with many readers reporting seeing large numbers of the insects in their homes.

Almost 50 species of ladybird are resident to Britain but since 2004 the Harlequin Ladybird - Harmonia axyridis - has become increasingly prominent.

Ladybird experts suggest the hot summer has boosted numbers and as the temperature cools, the Harlequin hibernates for the winter in buildings - including homes.

Scientists say the ladybirds are mostly harmless and can be left alone if they are found in your house.

WARNING: Conkers can poison your dog - what to do if they eat one

Although a native of eastern Asia, populations have been found across Europe, Egypt and North America, with some believed to have flown to the UK across the Channel, or having arrived in the country in packing cases.

Olympic athlete Kelly Sotherton, Kaya Jones, wife of Manchester United defender Phil Jones, and Helen Evans, wife of Leicester City’s Jonny Evans, have all been posting on social media about their 'infestations'.

Dr Geoff Oxford from the University of York's Department of Biology told The York Press the higher than normal number of ladybirds in recent days was part of the insect's life-cycle.

Dr Oxford said: "Ladybirds are very visible just now and are mostly - on my house at least - are the invading Harlequin Ladybird.

"At this time of year they are gathering in preparation for hibernation, which they often do in groups.

"They tend to use the same sites each year, presumably marked by scent since a different generation of ladybirds is hibernating now than hibernated last year.

"So near to where they gather there must be safe nooks and crannies to squeeze into, protected to some extent from frosts."

Dr Oxford said the species was introduced into North America as a pest control agent as they eat aphids and other pests, and 'have spread extremely rapidly over the last 14 years'.

A national study is taking place into the spread of the Harlequin Ladybird - which can live on most trees and low-growing plants, reedbeds, coniferous woodland and crops - and the public has been urged to log sightings of the creature online.

A spokesman for the UK Ladybird Survey said: "There are 46 species of ladybird residents in Britain and the recent arrival of the harlequin ladybird has the potential to jeopardise many of these.

"The Harlequin Ladybird Survey will monitor its spread across Britain and assess its impact on native ladybirds."

To find out more, or take part in the survey, go to