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)
Superfamily Cucujoidea (Sap, Bark, Fungus and Lady Beetles)
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
Explanation of Names
Harmonia axyridis (Pallas, 1773)
3 Nearctic spp., all adventive
The adult is highly variable in color and pattern. In the east, the elytra (hard shiny wing cases) range from orange to red, with many to no black spots. In the west, some individuals are black with two large red patches (such as this one
from British Columbia), and some are black with several large orange spots (such as this one
from California). Several other variations are shown here
. In the east, the pronotum is usually white with four black spots, which range from small spots to large patches that may blend together to look like a black M (or W).
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:
An excellent plate showing most of the color variants
A selection of the color variants posted in BugGuide:
red on black
yellow on black
melo - red "C" spot
yellow "C" spot
melo - single spot
and in yellow
The gender of adults can be determined by close examination of the ventral surface of the last abdominal segment. (See this page
The larva looks somewhat like a tiny alligator, with mostly black coloration, orange markings (including a broad orange stripe along each side) 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
yr round in many states. Hibernates as adults in houses and outbuildings.
Aphids, thrips, mites, scale insects, and eggs of butterflies and moths. 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). The stage that eats the most aphids is the larva.
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.
Two-spotted Lady Beetle (Adalia bipunctata) can appear similar to the typical and spotless forms, including both pronotal markings and elytra. 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.)
Dark form of the Ashy-gray can also appear similar to the dark forms of H. axyridis. On O. v-nigrum, note the angled anterior edge of the elytra spot, the sharper delineation of the pale pronotal margin, and the crown-shaped white marking on the head.
Ashy-gray Lady Beetle, dark form
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.
|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.