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Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis (Pallas, 1773)

Harmonia axyridis adult Harmonia axyridis larva

They're here! The invasive Harlequin Ladybird (also variously known as multicoloured, multivariate, Japanese, Asian and, in the USA especially, Halloween ladybird) has reached my garden. The distinctive spiny larva was photographed on 29rd May 2007, and the first adult 4 days later.

With ample supplies of aphids in the garden it seems inevitable that these will be the first of many. One constraining factor may be a tendency of the larvae to eat each other, which seems to be what is happening in the far right photo.

More information, identification tips and a reporting system can be found at the Harlequin Ladybird Survey. The London Ladybird Survey have a Rogues Gallery of adult insects.


Adult Harmonia axyridis

Although there was only a small population of axyridis here in 2007, they represented a wide variety of colour morphs, as seen here (click any photo for enlargement).

Pale variants

Almost spotless elytra, a few black spots on thorax Harmonia axyridis adult 19 spots, usually a black "W" on thorax (form succinea) Harmonia axyridis adult Harmonia axyridis adult Harmonia axyridis adult Harmonia axyridis adult

 
Melanic variants

(form spectabilis) 4 spots - roundish or "Pacman" Harmonia axyridis adult Harmonia axyridis adult Harmonia axyridis adult 2 annular spots (form conspicua, June 2009)

Far right - 2 roundish spots
Harmonia axyridis adult Harmonia axyridis adult

 
Just emerged

 
Prey

A newly emerged axyridis, seen with its pupal case, has unmarked elytra; the markings on the thorax suggest this is destined to be a nineteen-spot form. Newly emerged Harmonia axyridis By September 2007 a colony of H. axyridis had gathered on a Kilmarnock Willow, which is infested by Giant Willow Aphids (Tuberolachnus salignus). Clearly the ladybirds were preying on these aphids, and this one was about to catch its lunch. Harmonia axyridis with aphid


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