Harlequin in my Garden

27th June 2012
OK, I posted about the Harlequin Ladybird about two months ago. But this is National Insect Week and as I just found the first Harlequin in my garden, I thought I would do another. I was also able to bring this specimen indoors for some "studio"-type shots!

The Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) spread to the UK from Europe in 2004. Since then it has expanded rapidly northwards, now covering most areas in England and Wales with a few sightings in Scotland and Ireland. Its name comes from the fact that it exists in many colour forms. In fact, it has been recorded in 100 different colour patterns. Some specimens are reddish-orange with black dots, others black with red patches. They exist in three main forms; succinea, spectabilis and conspicua. This is the succinea form and both Harlequins that I have seen have looked like this.

Unlike most other ladybirds, the Harlequin does not stick to one type of food. Once it has finished feeding on aphids, it then turns its attention to other ladybird eggs and larvae and even the eggs and caterpillars of moths and butterflies. The main reason Harlequin Ladybirds pose a threat to our native ladybirds, is that they have such voracious appetites that they easily out-compete native ladybirds for food. They have been described as "the world's most invasive ladybird".

To get more information and to record your Harlequin Ladybird sightings, go to the Harlequin Ladybird Survey website.

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