Species Harmonia axyridis - Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga (Water, Rove, Scarab, Long-horned, Leaf and Snout Beetles)
No Taxon (Series Cucujiformia)
No Taxon (Coccinellid group)
Family Coccinellidae (Lady Beetles)
Species axyridis (Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle)
Other Common Names
"The many-named ladybird! Multicoloured (multicolored), multivariate, southern, Japanese, Asian, Halloween, harlequin or pumpkin ladybird (ladybug, ladybeetle); la coccinelle asiatique, veelkeurig Aziatisch lieveheersbeestje, Asiatischer Marienkafer
" from Paul Mabbott's Ladybird Survey
M.A.L.B. - especially in the pest control trade
Haxy - commonly used for abbreviation (HA-rmonia AX-yridis), especially in Europe.
Explanation of Names
Harmonia axyridis (Pallas, 1773)
3 Nearctic spp. in the genus, all adventive
The adult is highly variable in color and pattern. The base pattern of the species is red to red-orange with 18 spots. These spots may be exaggerated, or eliminated, on an individual basis. The common red form, succinea is dominant in most areas. Melanic forms conspicua (two red markings) and spectabilis (four red markings) are less common, and only starting to establish in the country. Rarely, other forms may appear. Any pattern involving red-orange and black may potentially occur in this species!
Because of its large size and pattern, typical forms are fairly straightforward to identify. Confusion is most common with melanic forms that are primarily black with 2-4 red markings. The underside of most forms is entirely dark with a wide orange margin, which distinguishes it from virtually all similar species.
With experience, one of the best ways to identify any color form is by the beetle's overall shape: it has very square "shoulders" that almost come to a right-angled point, and a flattened, flared (explanate) rear end:
A selection of the color variants posted in BugGuide:
The alligator-like larva is solid dark gray with rows of orange markings and double-branched spines. Very few people encountering one for the first time would recognize it as a young "ladybug." It grows to be larger than the eventual adult size.
The pupa is an elongated dome shape, usually found attached to a leaf, with the spiky remains of the last larval skin usually clinging to one end. The branched spines of this skin are usually visible.
Throughout US and s. Canada, except absent from n. Rockies (1)
Native to eastern Asia from the Altai Mountains to the east coast and Japan. (Currently!) absent from much of the midwest and northern Canada.
Widespread in urban and rural environments. Generally only invades wilderness in very temperate regions (per. J. Bailey).
Year round in many states. Hibernates as adults in houses and outbuildings.
Aphids, thrips, mites, scale insects, and eggs of butterflies and moths. The stage that eats the most aphids is the larva.
Especially in the fall, they will also consume ripe fruit, making them a nuisance pest in vineyards. (Not because they eat a lot of grapes, but because they make wine taste terrible!)
Usually two generations per year in Asia and Europe, but up to five generations have been observed; larvae pass through four instars; adults typically live 30-90 days depending on temperature, but some individuals may live up to 3 years. (1)
First introduced to N. Amer. (for biological control of aphids) in Calif. in 1916, and again in Calif. in 1964 and 1965. Also introduced in Washington state from 1978–1982, and in Nova Scotia, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Washington D.C., Delaware, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina from 1978–1981.(2)
Despite the numerous intentional releases, the species did not become established until 1988 in Louisiana.(3)
Thereafter, it spread rapidly throughout most of United States, reaching Canada in 1994.
Although not native to this country, this species is widely sold for aphid control throughout the US, and has become very well-established (to the point of becoming a nuisance).
It predates on native coccinellids and dramatically reduces their populations throughout its introduced range.
Considered a pest to fruit production and processing. It contaminates and causes damage to wine grapes. It inhabits wine grape orchards and damages and consumes sugar rich grapes.
Adult beetles seek sheltered places to hibernate for the winter, and often invade homes in large numbers for that purpose. The best way to prevent this is to find and seal the cracks by which they gain entry.
When threatened, ladybird beetles in general, and this one in particular, exude a foul-smelling and -tasting liquid from their leg joints.
The gender of adults can be determined by close examination of the ventral surface of the last abdominal segment. (See this page
Two-spotted Lady Beetle (Adalia bipunctata) is a small species that has similar forms. However, Adalia has an entirely black underside in red forms, unlike the extensive orange of Harmonia. The center of Adalia's "face" is black, however, while H. axyridis' is white.The overall shape is more elongated and oval than H. axyridis and the rear end is smoothly curved, not explanate. (Both photos below are A. bipunctata.)
Ashy-gray Lady Beetle, Olla v-nigrum is the most similar species, but can be distinguished by a strong white crown marking on the head, and by wedge or triangular red markings, not circular or crescent shaped. The pronotum markings are usually very narrow in that species and may even form a white front margin.
10-spotted Lady Beetle, Adalia decempunctata, is not yet recorded from North America, but is much smaller in size and has less markings.
Chapin, J.B., and V.A. Broux. 1991. Harmonia axyridis
(Pallas) the third species of the genus to be found in the United States (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 93: 630-635. (3)
Koch, R.L. 2003. The multicolored Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis
: A review of its biology, uses in biological control, and non-target impacts. J Insect Sci. 3: 32. Full Text
Koch, R.L. and T.L. Galvan. 2008. Bad side of a good beetle: The North American experience with Harmonia axyridis. BioControl. 53(1): 23-35.
Koch, R.L.; W.D. Hutchison; R.C. Venette; G.E. Heimpel. 2003. Susceptibility of immature monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Danainae), to predation by Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Biological Control. 28(2): 265-270.
Koch, R.L., R.C. Venette, and W.D. Hutchison. 2005. Influence of alternate prey on predation of monarch butterfly (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) larvae by the multicolored Asian lady beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) Environmental Entomology. 34(2): 410-416.
Koch, R.L., R.C. Venette, and W.D. Hutchison. 2006. Predicted impact of an exotic generalist predator on monarch butterfly (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) populations: A quantitative risk assessment. Biological Invasions 8(5): 1179-1193.
Vilcinskas et al. 2013. Invasive Harlequin Ladybird Carries Biological Weapons Against Native Competitors. Science, 340(6134): 862-863. Abstract
- Mizell 2012, University of Florida
Penn State University
- How to prevent Asian lady beetle infestations.
H. axyridis in Britain
- Information on its release and invasion of the US and Europe.
Proc. Entomol. Soc. Wash.
. Harmonia axyridis
(Pallas), the third species of the genus to be found in the United States (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). PDF
|1.||Ladybugs of Alberta|
John Acorn. 2007. University of Alberta Press, 169 pages.
|2.||The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of America North of Mexico |
Robert D. Gordon. 1985. Journal of the New York Entomological Society, Vol. 93, No. 1.