Just in case it needs to be said Ladybirds don’t give you STDs. Despite the Kent Live News headline suggesting otherwise.

Ladybirds don’t give you STDs

Kent Live News Ladybirds

It seems Kent Live News is participating in another round of uninformed insect fear stories. Their misleading headline “‘Seal your windows’ Ladybirds carrying STDs are starting to invade Kent homes” is nothing but hogwash.

The fact that ladybirds, which come in almost 5000 varieties, are promiscuous and give each other diseases is not news. It is a well-known fact that those who study insects are well aware of. However, they are also the sort of people that know that insect STDs do not pass to people. As a result, they do not go around writing irresponsible headlines.

The STD in question is a mite that lives on ladybirds. It uses the ladybird mating behaviour to move from one insect to the next. Thus the mites are, technically, an STD.

Ladybirds have not “just arrived in Kent”

Harlequin ladybirds are the ones at the centre of this “panic” but they are not new. They arrived in the UK in 2004. That’s 14 years ago!

Harlequins are mostly harmless but have a tendency to do what some other insects do – try to find somewhere warm for the winter. As a result, you might find some trying to come inside.

If Kent Live News was being honest with you, they might say that there are more Harlequins than in other years because we have had a hot summer. Instead, they have used their headline to spread alarm. Tucked underneath, in text designed (if you ask me) to be missed they have written “but there is nothing to worry about”.

Also, ladybirds don’t give you STDs. The headline is simply misleading.

Bad journalism copying bad journalists

So where did Kent Live News get such a story from? A quick Google on the subject shows that Kent Live News almost certainly just lifted the story from The Daily Mail and The Daily Mirror – hardly reliable sources at the best of times.

The “seal your windows” quote is attributed to a person I cannot find who is alleged to run a pest control company. The trouble is, I can’t find the pest control company either. I could find two very similar companies with very similar sounding names but the one Kent Live News cites might not actually exist.

My window is open right now. A nice cool breeze is blowing in. I’ve yet to see a single ladybird.

So don’t panic Thanet. This looks to me like bad journalists copying each other.

I was able to find the truth behind the headline in a matter of minutes. One search and I found everything I ever wanted to know and a lot more besides. How lazy must you need to be to write such utter drivel? Or evil, assuming that the writer knew the truth and just decided that a headline about STD carrying insects was more profitable.

In case I have not said it enough, yet – ladybirds don’t give you STDs.