Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis Pallas) in Hertfordshire

Dave Hodges

Following the interesting article in Volume 64 (Ware, Majerus, Roy and Symington 2005 - The Harlequin ladybird arrives in Britain: A threat to our native species?) I thought I'd send in some colour photos I took in 2005 of a harlequin ladybird and it's brood which show the remarkable colour and marking variation in the adult.

I found an adult female on nettles by a small river near Sarrat in Hertfordshire. Not being aware of the existence of the harlequin I was a bit stumped, after all a melanic seven spot ladybird with red legs!!! However, after a chance conversation with an interested gardener in my local pub who had accessed the BBC website, I realised it was a harlequin ladybird. Luckily it was gravid and obligingly laid a small brood of about 10 eggs which I bred out.

The female itself was all black with red spots (Plate 1). Although the subsequent larvae (Plates 7, 8) showed no discernible variation in colouring, the adult offspring were very different (Plates 2-6).

A series of photographs demonstrating colour and pattern variation within the harlequin ladybird (_Harmonia axyridis_)

Pattern variation in the harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis.

Two photographs of 4th instar larvae of the harlequin ladybird (_Harmonia axyridis_)

Larvae of the harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis.

As stated in the previous article the adult is similar in size and shape to the Seven Spot. Despite the elytral colouring all my specimens had red legs with each elytra having a hump on each shoulder and a distinctive 'Pinched' sculptured ridge at the apex. The larvae, especially in the last instar are quite striking and like the adult distinctive. The pupae are again distinctive being predominantly orange with black markings. Like the larvae there seems to be no obvious hint to the adult's colour from the pupa.


Ware, R.L., Majerus, M.E.N., Roy, H.E. and Symington, F. (2005). The Harlequin ladybird arrives in Britain: A threat to our native species? Bulletin of the Amateur Entomologists' Society. 64 (462): 175-186.

Originally published in the Volume 65 of the Bulletin of the Amateur Entomologists' Society.

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