Introduced species

Asian ladybird

Last update: 29 June 2019
SPECIES: Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)
FAMILY: Ladybirds (COCCINELLIDAE)



OBSERVATION:
2019-VI-172019-VI-102019-VI-022019-V-282019-V-242019-IV-202019-III-232016-V-282016-V-272016-V-052015-XII-272015-XII-152015-XI-262015-XI-152015-X-25

YEARS:
201520162019

MONTHS:
JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec


The Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) [1] is omnipresent in the Netherlands [1] and in the garden, where I suspect it is the most common of ladybirds.

Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)

1. DISTRIBUTION

The Asion ladybird is an invasive species that has been introduced in 1996 as a biological control species to defeat aphids in greenhouses, and in fields of lettuce and arboriculture [3]. The reasoning was that the species could not survive the Dutch winters, but in 2002 it was first observed ‘in the wild’ [3]. According to [Cuppen et al., 2004] [3] it is probable that the species entered our country through Belgium where it was introduced earlier.

It is now one of the most abundant species of ladybird in the Netherlands and a threat to indiginous species. This is also true for most European countries in the area bordered by Great brittain in the west, Denmark in the north, France and Italy in the south and Czech republic in the east. In southern countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece the species has been found but up to 2008 there was no sign of domestication yet [6]. I didn’t find more recent data on this.

Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)

2. BEHAVIOUR

2.1. FEEDING BEHAVIOUR

The fact that this species has been able to establish itself so quickly and managed to spread successfully throughout the country has to do with aspects of its behaviour.  Like most other ladybirds it lives on aphids and is cannibalistic on the larvae of other ladybird species. What is different is that M. axyridis eat a lot more and has a diverse menu. Each day an adult beetle eats about 65 aphids, and about 5000 specimen of this or other species, during the period of 30 – 130 days during which it is active [7]. It lives on aphids but as most other ladybird species the larvae are also cannibalistic on other ladybird larve. However M. axyridis is larger in size and more aggressive and has a higher win rate in encounters between species [2]. Studies have shown that M. axyridis is more furtile, fecund and ferocious than Cycloneda sanguinea, a ladybird species in the US, and therefore outcompetes it [7].
They also eat the eggs and larvae of other insect among others butterflies (Monarch butterfly) [2].

A study [8] that compares the feeding behaviour on aphids by M. axyridis and the Seven-spotted ladybird (C. septempunctata), that other local ferocious predator in the garden, shows that both species consume about the same amounts per 24 hours. The data distincts between feeding by the larva (third instar), the adult female and male. In both species the larvae and females eat the most and about the same amounts, and the males eat substantially less which can ascribed to the different nutrition needs for growing and reporduction. 

The consumed number of prey depends among other on the total amount available. Below is an example (rounded) from the study [8] of the feeding ratio per 24 uur for larvae/females/males:

luizen C.septempunctata M.axyridis
120 82 / 90 / 61 96 / 86 / 51
180 105 / 115 / 78 112 / 95 / 54

2.2. TOXICITY

Not only the hunting behaviour contributes to its succes but it turns out the species carries microsporidia, one celled parasites, whose spores are transferred to its eggs as well. A study suggests that when the larvae or eggs are eaten by other ladybird species those are fatally poisoned and die as they have lower tolerance to the parasite than M. axyridis [4].

Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)

3. IDENTIFICATION

3.1. EGGS

The eggs are yellow but that is also the case in other ladybird species so not a unique characteristic.

Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), laying eggs
Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), laying eggs

3.2. LARVAE

INSTAR 4

4th instars are easily recognizeable by the orange stripes on the edges of the abdomen.

Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), 4th instar
Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), 4th instar
Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), 4th instar
Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), 4th instar

3.3. PRE-PUPPA

Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), prepuppa

3.4. PUPPA

Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), puppae

3.5. ADULTS

The species is large, 5 – 9 mm [1].

Another characteristic of this species is the dent in the backside of the wingshields, a trait it shares in the Ntherlands only with the Ten-spotted ladybird [1].

Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), characteristic dent in wingcovers

3. IDENTIFICATION

M. axyridis has an enormous diversity in color schemes and dots. About  200 colorvariations have been described [5] and up to nineteen dots on both wingshields [5].
These variations can be broadly defined in two categories [1]:

  1. white neckshield with black dots or black dots connected in the shape of a black ‘M’, and red or orange wingshields with a variable amount of dots
  2. black neckshield with broad white edges and black wingshield with one or two red dots

Variant 1

Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)

Variant 2

Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)
Asian ladybird
(Harmonia axyridis)

References

1 Cuppen, J.G.M., V.J. Kalkman, G.A. Tacoma & Th. Heijerman 2015, Veldklapper Lieveheersbeestjes. - EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten en andere ongewervelden, Nederlandse Entomologische Vereniging & Waarneming.nl, Leiden

2 Raak-van den Berg CL, De Lange HJ, Van Lenteren JC (2012) Intraguild Predation Behaviour of Ladybirds in Semi-Field Experiments Explains Invasion Success of Harmonia axyridis. PLoS ONE 7(7): e40681. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040681

3 Cuppen J, Heijerman T, van Wielink P, Loomans A (2004) Het lieveheersbeestje Harmonia axyridis in Nederland: een aanwinst voor onze fauna of een ongewenste indringer (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)? Nederlandse Faunistische Mededelingen 20:1–12

4 Vilcinskas, Andreas & Stoecker, Kilian & Schmidtberg, Henrike & Röhrich, Christian & Vogel, Heiko. (2013). Invasive Harlequin Ladybird Carries Biological Weapons Against Native Competitors. Science (New York, N.Y.). 340. 862-863. 10.1126/science.1234032.

5 C. C. TAN (1945), MOSAIC DOMINANCE IN THE INHERITANCE OF COLOR HARMONIA AXYRIDIS, Department of Biolopy, National University of Chekiang, Hangchow, China

6 Brown, Peter & Adriaens, Tim & Bathon, H & Cuppen, J & Goldarazena, Arturo & Hägg, T & Kenis, Marc & E. M. Klausnitzer, B & Kovář, I & Loomans, Antoon & E. N. Majerus, M & Nedvěd, Oldřich & Pedersen, Jan & Rabitsch, Wolfgang & Roy, Helen & Ternois, V & Zakharov-Gezekhus, Ilya & Roy, D.B.. (2008). Harmonia axyridis in Europe: Spread and distribution of a non-native coccinellid. 10.1007/978-1-4020-6939-0_2.

7 Majerus, M. , Strawson, V. and Roy, H. (2006), The potential impacts of the arrival of the harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), in Britain. Ecological Entomology, 31: 207-215. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2311.2006.00734.x

8 XUE, Y., et al. Predation by Coccinella septempunctata and Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) on Aphis glycines (Homoptera: Aphididae). Environmental Entomology, 2009, 38.3: 708-714.

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