Plagues of ladybirds have been spotted around Portsmouth as they seek shelter in warm houses.
Residents have recorded strange scenes of large numbers of the bugs climbing over windows, furniture and even statues in Kingston Cemetery.
According to Ecological Contractor for Buglife, Rory Dimond, 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 note advocate spraying them with pesticides.
‘It is best to remove the ladybirds humanely if you can using a glass and card.’
Readers from across Portsmouth and surrounding areas took to Facebook to report the influx, many reporting they can leave a yellow stain on furniture.
Carl Garrod said: ‘Ladybirds were buzzing around and bumping into my (attic) office window in Gosport today to such an extent that at first I feared it was bees/wasps gathering to build a nest in the roof!’
Karen Martin said: ‘I’m in Military Road, Gosport, and the whole front of my house was swarming with ladybirds, they were coming in the windows. When I went out to video them, they were landing all over me. Amazing!’
Hannah Molly said: ‘My mum and dad live in high rise flats in West Leigh and on their balcony it was like we were being invaded by them. My dad went out to have a fag and counted about 100 of them and when he came back indoors he had loads on him. It was funny trying to see him get them off.’
Helen Mayhead said: ‘We are in Baffins. There were literally hundreds of them on the front of our house this afternoon. Looked like they were trying to get in through the windows.’
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
Video: Stef Morris