Harlequin Ladybird Larva

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larva

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larva, June 2019, local woodland margin, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

A Ladybird Finally Gets Its Spots

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f.succinea

Let’s have a quick recap and start from the beginning shall we? We have a pair of the adult Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) mating.

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae

From the eggs the female laid after the union above we have the larva.

Harlequin Ladybird pupa

Then on the side of my green wheely bin I discovered what the larva changed into. This fresh pupa which then hardend and turned into …

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis pupa

… one of these, a later stage pupa. This is a different one I found on a Hawthorn leaf. And then back to the really green wheely bin and …

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis

… after keeping an eye on it for days I was lucky enough to just catch the adult emerging from the pupa case,

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis

Eventually the ladybird or ladybug gets its spots. This is a variety of Harlequin called succinea. The cycle will begin anew.

And all this going on within our midst as we go about our daily routines. Such is the wonder of nature.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. May and June 2017.

Before The Ladybird We Have …

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae

… the larvae stage first. This is the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis). It readily consumes aphids just like the adult beetle does, so is a good friend to have in your garden. I try to resist the urge to use sprays on my roses, as usually, in the end, these little critters come to their rescue.

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis larvae


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Transformation II

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis pupa

I have come across quite a few of these bright red and black-spotted cases on roses and other plants in the garden. Which is good new for my plants as they are the pupa casings for the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis).

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis pupa

You can see the details of the adult ladybird beginning to show as this is nearing completion of its transformation. I am quite amazed at how these still manage to move whilst in the metamorphoses state. They can flip themselves upright as can be seen in the image directly above, or lie flat as in the first image. Maybe it is to do with temperature regulation, or maybe they can sense potential threats.

Anyway, all those aphids better watch out!


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Transformation

Harlequin Ladybird pupa

I discovered this ladybird pupa on the side of my green wheely bin this morning. I think it is relatively fresh as it was still moving, pulsating and flicking. Where it is attached to the bin is the remains of the larva’s skin. I believe it is of that of a Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis).


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Harlequin Ladybirds

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis f.succinea


Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis f. succinea) mating, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. May 2017.

Packed Up And Ready To Go …

… to become an adult.

This is the brightly coloured pupa casing of the Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis). I found it glued to the underneath of a fern in my back garden. Notice the black and white remains of shed spiky larval skin at the base of the pupa.

Harlequin Ladybird

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.