Kevbert's picture

Harlequin Ladybird

Observed: 5th July 2011 By: KevbertKevbert’s reputation in InvertebratesKevbert’s reputation in InvertebratesKevbert’s reputation in Invertebrates
Larva 1

The Harlequin ladybird is an invasive species which preys on many small insects including other ladybirds. It probably came from the US or Canada, but can be found in many parts of Europe. Shown is a larva (body length approx 9mm) and a pupa (7mm). They are also known to feast on soft fruit including apple (where these were found) and leave small blemishes on the skin). They are known to overwinter in houses and give off a foul yellow liquid (reflex blood) if provoked. They may even bite humans and can cause an allergic reaction.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) interacts


rimo's picture

There's no way of identifying

There's no way of identifying the form from the juvenile stages.

Harlequins are actually from Japan and other parts of eastern Asia - they were imported into the USA as well as Europe for biocontrol of aphids. The British population is largely from the European wild population (itself a mix of biocontrol & American stocks), probably reinforced by accidental imports from north America.

They do feed on fruit (as adults, when feeding up for the winter), but their jaws aren't strong enough to break the skin - instead, they feed on pre-existing blemishes and marks

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Kevbert's picture


Now seen adults, post pupa stage (new photo just added) . Prior to seeing the larva and adults, there were a number of the sub-species seen on this apple tree and no others.
Thanks for the comments.
It has been suggested elsewhere that the Harlequins were deliberately introduced into the US from Asia to combat pests and have become more voracious than their Asian counterpart. These have now conquered the UK.
I've recorded my sightings a few times on the Harlequins website. Here (Hailsham) I've only seen Harmonia axyridis f. succinea, but at my previous address (near London) have seen all three main sub species (succinea, spectablis and conspicua).

rimo's picture

Just as a note, the different

Just as a note, the different colours are forms (hence f. succinea), not subspecies.

The Harlequin was indeed deliberately introduced into the US, beginning in 1916, and only became established in the wild in about 1988, by which time it had also been introduced into continental Europe (1982 onwards).

The US population is more voracious and more invasive than the original source population, and it is the US population which has spread out into Africa, South America, and Europe, where it interbred with the existing biocontrol stocks.

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