Plagues of ladybirds have been spotted around the Eastbourne district and further afield as they seek shelter in warm houses.
Residents have recorded strange scenes of large numbers of the bugs climbing over windows, furniture and foliage in gardens.
According to Ecological Contractor for Buglife, Rory Dimond, most of the ladybirds in question are Harlequin ladybirds, an invasive species from Asia.
He said they have spread rapidly across the UK since 2004, after they were introduced to Holland to control aphids.
“The ladybirds pose no danger to humans however, large gatherings can give off a chemical smell and in centrally-heated houses they may be woken up from hibernation by the warmth and fly around the house,” Mr Dimond said.
“Although it is not a native species, they are now so abundant that killing the ladybirds will have next to no impact and we do not advocate spraying them with pesticides.
“It is best to remove the ladybirds humanely if you can using a glass and card.”
We asked our Facebook followers if they had seen large groups of ladybirds.
James Orme wrote: “We saw 3 in my car, including one that flew into my face as I was going around a roundabout, and almost caused us to crash as I thought it was a wasp haha.”
Other comments included:
Helen Ridley: “Hundreds everywhere in Hampden Park and all over the outside of my home!”
Kym Walters: “We had loads in our front room yesterday in Willingdon.”
Sian Thorpe: “We walked through Gildredge Park yesterday and my Mum noticed I was covered in them!”
Julie Homan: “Yesterday there were loads on the walls at Bodiam Castle.”
Becca Marshall: “Just left the door open for ten minutes and had to collect 40 from the door wall and ceiling.”
Persia Michael: “Lots! I love ladybirds though! Happens every year around October!”
Mr Dimond said their influx into houses had become an annual phenomenon.
“As winter is drawing in, the ladybirds are seeking sheltered spots to hibernate away from the cold,” he said.
“They particularly like houses and outbuildings and have a habit of gathering together in suitable areas.”
Although the colour of ladybirds may vary, Mr Dimond said they are all of the same species. If people have spotted Harlequin ladybirds, they can submit a record to the UK ladybird survey to help record the spread of the species across the country: http://www.ladybird-survey.org/
For more information about Harlequin ladybirds visit www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/harlequin-ladybird