Peter Skelton's picture

Harlequin ladybirds

Observed: 19th November 2010 By: Peter SkeltonPeter Skelton’s reputation in InvertebratesPeter Skelton’s reputation in InvertebratesPeter Skelton’s reputation in Invertebrates
harlequins, Woburn Sands, Nov., 2010

Large cluster of ladybirds exposed on wall of house while stripping away ivy, showing wide range of colour and spotting shown by this invasive species (including several melanics). There is an interesting current division of territory in our garden, with the harlequins dominating on buildings and gates, but the (native) seven spots still in command of the undersides of leaves (e.g., especially old raspberry canes).

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) interacts


Roger Gilbert's picture

That's great............

to see all those vaiations together.

Howardian Local Nature Reserve

Peter Skelton's picture

harlequin variability

Thanks, Roger. Some of this variation, at least, seems to be ontogenetic, as I have noticed in earlier seasons that when the adults first emerge, the (still slightly soft) wing-cases are yellow to pale dirty orange (bit like the one at lower centre in this photo), without any spotting and it is only as they harden that the colour darkens and the spots appear - though I haven't checked closely enough to see what the melanics look like on emergence. I do have some photos from last year, showing adults newly emerging and others laying eggs, which I can post (belatedly!) if you would be interested (?)

Roger Gilbert's picture

Yes please Peter .....

I'd love to see the egg laying and emergents.

Howardian Local Nature Reserve

Peter Skelton's picture

harlequin egglaying and emergence

OK, Roger - done as a new post. Hope you like them!

rimo's picture

Nice shots! When they first

Nice shots! When they first emerge from the pupa, even the melanics are a really bright, lurid yellow, which gradually darkens off as the layers of melanin are laid down. Within the forms, the temperature during development affects the extent of melanisation, so for instance in the individuals of the form succinea (orange with black spots), individuals from pupae which were chilled have far more melanisation, to the extent that the spots join up and merge together, while idividuals kept warm can be almost spotless.

Record your ladybird sightings!

Peter Skelton's picture

ladybird records

Thanks for the information, rimo: I've duly uploaded my records (with pictures) of harlequins from 2007, 2009 and 2010 on the harlequin survey, as you suggested, and I have also just added a new image here (on iSpot) showing some clustered 7-spots from our garden, as well. I was fortunate to have had my first sightings of the harlequins confirmed for me in some earlier correspondence that I had had (on another topic) with Mike Majerus, whose tragically early death robbed us of both an outstanding evolutionary scientist and a champion of popular natural history.