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... how can they look so different, yet be the same species? (like dogs, I suppose?)
I am told that some of the variation in the patterns of H axy is determined by the environment in which they develop.
There is possibly a genetic component to the variation (like in dogs) as well.
There's a gene (or, often, a couple of genes) for elytral colour, and in some species, like the Harlequin, the genes have several alleles (versions) which code for different colour patterns on the elytra (a similar system to hair colour in humans). In British Harlequins, there's 3 colour forms: succinea (orange with black spots), conspicua (black with 2 red spots), and spectabilis (black with 4 red spots).
As David says, there is some environmental determination in the Harlequin - this doesn't change the form (it won't make conspicua turn into succinea, etc). It is most noticeable in succinea where, if the larva/pupa is cold, the spots are larger and fuse together.
Record your ladybird sightings!
I will look more at the websites as spring and summer progresses, thank you.
Lat/Lng: 50.6, -3.5
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