Harmonia axyridis | Harlequin Ladybird



Conservation status

Not Assessed

Legal status

Third Schedule listed species under Regulations 49 & 50 in the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011. (Note: Regulation 50 not yet enacted).

First reported in the wild



Invasive species - risk of High Impact

Irish status


Introduction pathways - 1

Transport Contaminant

Introduction pathways - 2


Introduction pathways subclass - 2

Natural dispersal across borders of invasive aliens

Invasive score


NAPRA Ireland risk assessed


Species Biology


Large ladybird 6-8mm in length, highly variable in colour, generally distinguishable from native ladybirds due to larger size (Booy et al., 2015). 3 main colour varieties found in Britain: 'succinea' yellow/orange/red 0-21 black spots; 'spectabilis' black with 4 red or orange large spots; and 'conspicua' black with 2 red to orange patches (Booy et al., 2015).


Harlequin ladybirds were initially introduced to North America and Europe as bio-control agents for aphids (Brown et al., 2007, Koch, 2003). However they have had a number of unforeseen adverse effects. They have been shown to engage in intra guild predation (where a species feeds 'sideways' rather than 'down' the food chain), consuming two spot and ten spot ladybirds in the United Kingdom (Thomas et al., 2013). They are a pest species in homes, as they enter houses during the winter and form large aggregations as a survival mechanism, due to their inability to survive in cold climates outdoors (Labrie et al., 2008). They may pose a [slight] risk to human health as there have been reports of allergic reactions (Heulsman et al., 2002) .


Constructed, industrial or other artificial habitats; Regularly or recently cultivated agricultural, horticultural or domestic habitat; Grasslands and landscapes dominated by forbs, mosses or lichens


Holometabolous life cycle (complete metamorphosis), proceeding through the egg, four instars, pupal, and adult stages (Koch, 2003). Temperature affects life cycle timing and adult weight (Koch, 2003). 1,642 to 3819 eggs produced per female (Koch, 2003) with 2 or 3 generations a year predicted in Ireland, based on British populations (Brown et al., 2007).

Pathway and vector description

The species has been found in products brought into Ireland from Britain  which may be its source of introduction to Ireland (particularly contaminants of fruit and vegetables) but it may also have simply arrived as part of natural dispersal from Britain. The scattered distribution of records (Kerry, Cork, Belfast, Dublin) would suggest multiple introductions events. The arrival in Britain was thought to be multiple introduction events from France (Brown et al., 2007),

Mechanism of impact

Competition, Predation, Other

Broad environment


Habitat description

Wide range of habitats. Over winter indoors in much of their northerly range including the United Kingdom.

Species group


Native region

Temperate Asia


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Established - Localised but expanding. Well established  and widespread in Cork city, abundance elsewhere is unknown. Likely under recorded.

Native distribution

Native range is not precisely known but native to central and eastern Asia, including China & Japan, widely introduced elsewhere as a biocontrol agent and is now present on every continent (Brown et al., 2011).

Temporal change

Date of first record category


Fifty year date category


Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre: please include a photograph to aid in verifying the identity of the ladybird.

You may wish to also remove Harlequin ladybirds from your home or garden.  Please first ensure that it is indeed the  Harlequin ladybird before undertaking control.  Eradication of the Harlequin ladybird from areas where it is established and widespread is not likely to be possible or feasible. 

Further information

Delivering Alien Invasive Species In Europe (DAISIE) project list this as one of the 100 Worst Invaders in Europe.

Harlequin ladybird  sheet: 

A brief ID guide to our native ladybirds can be viewed on pages 12 and 13 of  Biodiversity Ireland Issue 13: 

More detail on identifying IReland's ladybirds available from: 



Booy, O., Wade, M. & Roy, H. (2015) Field Guide to the Invasive Plants & Animals in Britain. Bloomsbury.

Brown, P. M. J., Roy, H. E., Rothery, P., Roy, D. B., Ware, R. L., & Majerus, M. E. (2008). Harmonia axyridis in Great Britain: analysis of the spread and distribution of a non-native coccinellid. In From Biological Control to Invasion: the Ladybird Harmonia axyridis as a Model Species (pp. 55-67). Springer Netherlands.

Galvan, T. L., Koch, R. L., & Hutchison, W. D. (2008). Impact of fruit feeding on overwintering survival of the multicolored Asian lady beetle, and the ability of this insect and paper wasps to injure wine grape berries. Entomologia experimentalis et applicata, 128(3), 429-436.

Huelsman, M. F., Kovach, J., Jasinski, J., Young, C., & Eisley, B. (2002, July). Multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) as a nuisance pest in households in Ohio. In: Proceedings of 4th international conference on urban pests (pp. 243-250).

Jones. Thomas, A. P., Trotman, J., Wheatley, A., Aebi, A., Zindel, R., & Brown, P. M. (2013). Predation of native coccinellids by the invasive alien Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae): detection in Britain by PCR-based gut analysis. Insect conservation and diversity, 6(1), 20-27.

Koch, R. L. (2003). The multi-coloured Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis: a review of its biology, uses in biological control, and non-target impacts. Journal of insect Science, 3(1), 32.

Labrie, G., Coderre, D., & Lucas, E. (2008). Overwintering strategy of multi-coloured Asian lady beetle (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae): cold-free space as a factor of invasive success. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 101(5), 860-866.

Ware, R. L., & Majerus, M. E. (2008). Intraguild predation of immature stages of British and Japanese coccinellids by the invasive ladybird Harmonia axyridis. BioControl, 53(1), 169-188.

Global Invasive Species Database

Recognising Harlequin ladybirds - British Harlequin Ladybird Survey

DAISIE Factsheet

CABI - Datasheet