Harmonia axyridis f. spectablis
It is not until you get up close and personal with this insect that you realise these beautifully bright and colourful beetles look so ferocious! This is quite a large and variable species of ladybird that come in three forms, one of them being this one, f. spectablis. It it usually black with four red-orange spots, although, to confuse matters further, there can be variations on these forms. Length 7 to 8mm.
They have a voracious appetite and consume large quantities of aphids in both larval and adult forms. Unfortunately they have a tendency to eat other, native ladybirds which pose a serious threat to all of Britain’s Coccinellidae. They also feed on moth and butterfly caterpillars, scale insects and pollen. The spread of this species is being closely monitored.
It can be seen all year round, hibernating in the winter months in tree hollows, sheds, barns, and even houses. Found in many habitats, including hedgerows, woodland verges, grasslands, roadside verges, parks and gardens. Their host plants are various, but particularly lime and sycamore. The Harlequin arrived in Britain in 2004, and has become particularly invasive, often to the detriment of local species. It has spread from the south through the Midlands.
Photographs taken June 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire.