Beware the Harlequin

The Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), the world's most invasive ladybird, has been detected establishing in Auckland. The biosecurity staff of the Ministry for Primary Industries having been work hard to figure out how far it's already spread. Unfortunately, it's sounding like it's already beyond eradication. That would be bad news for NZ ladybirds as the Harlequin ladybird, an Asian native species, has reached high densities in Europe and North America and displaced their native ladybirds.

We urgently need all sightings of Harlequin ladybirds, and also all other ladybirds so we can assess whether the Harlequin out-competes out native ladybirds like it's done overseas. We've set up a project to do just that: NZ Ladybird Watch. Please join us in recording all the ladybirds we can find.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has produced a useful fact sheet on the Harlequin ladybird and its identification.

It can be confused with the similar looking Harmonia conformis ladybird. Here's what Auckland entomologist Stephen Thorpe (@stephen_thorpe) tells us about how to ID the Harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis: "It is a very variable species (how variable in NZ, I don't know). It is conspicuously larger than the other Harmonia species in NZ. The pronotum is (usually) white, with a symmetrical median black pattern. The larvae have 4 yellow papillae forming a square on the abdomen." If in doubt, just post a photo here and entomologists like Stephen will help with the ID.

You can see all of the NatureWatch NZ observations of Harlequin ladybirds here. Below is a selection to help you know what to look out for.

A Harlequin ladybird in Auckland on 9 April 2016 observed by @jacqui4.

A Harlequin ladybird in Auckland on 19 May 2016 observed by @stephen_thorpe.

Another colour morph of Harlequin ladybird, found in Auckland on 22 May 2016 observed by @stephen_thorpe.

A pupa of Harlequin ladybird, found in Auckland on 22 May 2016 observed by @stephen_thorpe.

A larva of Harlequin ladybird, found in Auckland on 15 May 2016 observed by @stephen_thorpe.

Posted by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan, May 21, 2016 23:10



Quick Question. if i find these do i bother squishing them or leave them?

Posted by jefffryett about 2 years ago (Flag)

Good question. It's probably not worth it as it's unlikely to make a difference to the local population. It would need to be part of an organised large scale control programme, but it looks like the horse has bolted, at least in the Auckland area.

It's certainly important to record them when you see them, and to record other ladybirds that you see, as it's useful to know which species are being most impacted by this new arrival.

Posted by jon_sullivan about 2 years ago (Flag)

Just found 4 in my garden

Posted by judybrownlee almost 2 years ago (Flag)

We have a number of them attracted to our house lights tonight here in Ruakaka. It would appear that they have spread further than recent articles suggest.

Posted by harleym 9 months ago (Flag)

Have found 50 plus in the frame of a window when opening it up and also seen a lot in our firewood bin. Location Motatatu, Northland

Posted by mariemorgan 9 months ago (Flag)

Live in Pahiatua and during the summer had a small tree infested with this ladybird, along with wasps.

Posted by pjp64 8 months ago (Flag)

I saw one in my garden in Lower Hutt today

Posted by kawakami 3 months ago (Flag)

It's amazing how abundant and widespread these have become in just a short time.

Posted by jon_sullivan 3 months ago (Flag)

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