SWARMS of Harlequin ladybirds carrying a sexually transmitted fungal disease are infesting homes around Britain - but why are they carrying STDs and can you get you catch it from them?
The native Asian species have flocked to UK shores after a record hot summer, looking to hibernate around boilers and window frames as winter descends.
Large numbers have been reported in Manchester, Birmingham, Loughborough and Gloucester.
Social media has been abuzz with people’s icky videos and pictures showing packs of the tiny beetles crawling around homes.
A hair-raising video showing “thousands gathering” at Croxteth Local Nature Reserve was posted by Liverpool Parks on Twitter yesterday.
What is making lots of people feel particularly icky about the Harlequin is the STD they carry called Laboulbeniales fungal disease.
Infections on the ladybird are easy to spot as they appear as “yellow, finger-like projections” on the ladybird’s body, according to the UK Ladybird Survey.
Ladybirds, despite looking cute, are generally disease ridden because of their promiscuous behaviour which passes on infections.
Harlequins are considered to be the “most invasive ladybird on Earth”, according to the UK Ladybird Survey.
The cannibal bugs carry the Laboulbeniales fungal disease through regular insect sex romps.
Scientists have found STDs among ladybirds are higher where food was more “plentiful”, spreading the risk of infection among the bugs.
But it is impossible for humans to catch the disease - and Laboulbeniales are generally not harmful to humans either.