A non-native species, originally from Asia, the Harlequin Ladybird first arrived in the UK in 2004, and has rapidly become one of the most common ladybirds in the country, particularly in towns and gardens. The invasive Harlequin is one of the larger species of ladybird in the UK and is a voracious predator - it is able to out-compete our native species for aphid-prey and will also eat other ladybirds' eggs and larvae. It can have multiple broods throughout the spring, summer and autumn, which also gives it a competitive edge.
How to identify
Harlequin Ladybirds are extremely variable, with up to 19 black spots on a red or orange background. There is a melanic form, with two or more red spots on a black background. The head has an obvious white triangle in the centre, something that neither of the other two similarly sized species have.
Where to find it
Widespread in England and Wales and spreading into Scotland.
When to find it
How can people help
The Harlequin Ladybird is a deadly species that has recently invaded our shores. It not only out-competes our native ladybirds for food, but also eats the eggs and larvae of other ladybirds, some butterflies and lacewings; elsewhere, its spread has had catastrophic impacts on local biodiversity. The Wildlife Trusts work with researchers, scientists and other conservationists to monitor changes in our native wildlife to determine the effects of environmental change, such as the introduction of new species or climate change. You can help: volunteer for your local Trust and you'll be able to monitor populations and survey habitats, adding to a growing bank of data.