|Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis
|Monks Eleigh Garden, Suffolk,
The Harlequin Ladybird is a native of east Asia which was introduced into the USA in about 1980 and into Italy in the late 1990s from where it spread across Europe. The first record in the British Isles was in September 2004 and it has spread like wildfire across England.
|Why would it be introduced? Like all Ladybirds it is a voracious eater of aphids and it was introduced as a biological control of these pests. Unfortunately it is much more voracious than native species of ladybird which have been suffering from lack of food. Furthermore, when Harlequin Ladybirds have run out of aphids to feed on they turn on other ladybirds, lace-wings and other beneficial insects.
|They are variable in pattern but are the largest ladybird being the same size or larger than the 7-spot Ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata. They also have pale rather than black legs and a single white spot on the head as can be seen well in photo 3 where the ladybird is on one of my apples. The melanistic pattern of black with a few orange-red spots seen in photo 4 is another typical variation.
|They hibernate in large
groups often in houses or other buildings. Photo 6 shows such a
cluster from behind one of our curtains in mid-October.
Photo 7 shows a larva and photo 8 shows a pupa.
|There is more information on the Ladybird Survey page.
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