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Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis)

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Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis)

H. axyridis adult with characteristic "M" marking.

Photo: © Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

The Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle, a native of Asia, came to North America through several accidental and intentional releases. By the mid-1990's, Harmonia axyridis established itself from coast to coast in the U.S. and Canada. Look for lady beetles in your backyard garden, and there's a good chance you'll find one or more Asian Multicolored Lady Beetles.

Description:

The adult Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle comes in many color variations, from yellow to black. Many have the familiar red back with black spots that we associate with lady beetles. The number of spots varies as much as the color, but the most common form has ten spots on each elytra. To identify a lady beetle as Harmonia axyridis, look at the thorax, on the upper or dorsal side. Several black dots merge together to form an M-shaped marking, the key to identifying this species. On some forms, you will also notice two football-shaped white patches, one on each side of the thorax.

Larvae of the Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle, with flattened bodies and tiny flexible spines along their backs, look like tiny alligators at first glance. Eggs are yellow and oval, appearing in clusters of up to twenty on the undersides of leaves.

Classification:

Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Arthropoda
Class - Insecta
Order - Coleoptera
Family - Coccinellidae
Genus - Harmonia
Species - axyridis

Diet:

Both adults and larvae of Asian Multicolored Lady Beetles feed voraciously on aphids, mites, scale, and other soft-bodied insects. They also eat eggs of moths and butterflies.

Life Cycle:

Asian Multicolored Lady Beetles undergo complete metamorphosis with four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Egg - It takes 3-5 days for eggs to hatch.
Larva - The larvae feed and molt for approximately two weeks.
Pupa - The pupal stage lasts just 5-6 days before the adult emerges.
Adult - In an optimal environment, adults can live as long as three years.

Special Adaptations and Defenses:

Like many other insects, Asian Multicolored Lady Beetles produce a foul smelling chemical to deter predators. When threatened, the beetle "reflex bleeds," releasing hemolymph with this repulsive smell through the leg joints. The orange fluid stains, making this tendency a nuisance when the beetles invade your home. And invade they do! In their native Asia, the beetles overwinter in large groups along cliffs. North American populations have adapted to their new habitats by moving indoors for winter, spending the cold days in walls and window casements.

Habitat:

In their native Asia, Harmonia axyridis lives in forests and mountains. In North America, Asian Multicolored Lady Beetles inhabit places where aphids and other soft-bodied insects are plentiful: gardens, home landscapes, orchards, fields, and forests.

Range:

Asia (except China), North America, and Europe.

Other Common Names:

Halloween Lady Beetle, Japanese Lady Beetle, Harlequin Ladybird

Sources:

  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Insects
  4. Flying Insects
  5. Beetles
  6. Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle - Habits and Traits of Asian Multicolored Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis

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