Harmonia axyridis (Pallas)
Common names: Asian ladybeetle, Halloween ladybeetle, Harlequin ladybird, multicolored Asian lady beetle.
Distribution: This East-Asian beetle was introduced into North America, Europe, South Africa and the Americas, and has more recently been introduced in the Middle East.
Morphology: Adults show much polymorphism, manifested in differences in elytral color forms, shape, size and also in biology. They are classified into two groups, the succinea group, beetles that are light red to brown, and the melanic group, characterized by melanic elytral patterns. There are also rare black species. The adults are 5-8 mm in length, elytra (usually) with 19 black spots and a (usually) black to yellow head. The body itself is red-yellow-orange to black. The larvae are mostly black, with yellow-red anterior abdominal segments.
Life history: Harmonia axyridis is polyphagous, feeding on various insects (especially aphids), as well as on economic plants. Its threshold of development is around 8-10°C., differing between members of the two groups. In the Mediterranean region the beetle is bivoltine, active during spring and summer, and hibernating in autumn and winter. During winter the adults tend to aggregate in crevices or other confined spaces, using visual and chemical cues. Within houses they may form groups that often stay in the upper corners of windows. The beetle has spread widely by flight, being able to cover large distances (>50 km per year), and mostly by human-assisted introductions. If threatened, it produces an unpleasant defensive chemical that deters predators.
Economic importance: Harmonia axyridis is considered an invasive alien ladybird in Europe, North America and Egypt, where it was introduced as a biological control agent of aphids and scale insects affecting various crops. In Europe it is being reared and sold by various biological control companies. However, H.armonia axyridis has a wide prey range and also preys on various non-pest insects (including beneficial, such as other Coccinellidae) and may displace them, reducing local biodiversity. In addition, H. axyridis may feed and damage economic plants (i.e. apples, citrus, grapes and pears). Its main impact as a pest is in vineyards, when it aggregates in grape clusters and is processed along, resulting in tainted, unmarketable wine or juice. The beetle is also a human nuisance, because in winter it aggregates (sometimes in thousands) within buildings, causing cosmetic damage and occasionally biting humans, invoking allergic reactions. It has the second highest environmental risk index, based on its wide prey range, ability to establish and disperse, and because it has direct and indirect effects on non-target species.
Management: Reducing the numbers of H. axyridis can reduce the level of aphid control, thus creating a conflict between farmers and conservationists.
Mechanical methods: Mechanically preventing the entry of beetles into buildings, trapping, and removal their aggregates from and around houses. Sweeping and vacuuming.
Chemical control: Pyretroids may reduce beetle numbers when applied in grape yards, as the beetle is attracted to ripe grapes.
Biological control: Harmonia axyridis is attacked by very few parasitoids, including a tachinid and a braconid, and their impacts are marginal. The mite Coccipolipus hippodamiae (McDaniel and Moril), a sexually transmitted ectoparasitoid of the adults, may be more important. The entomopathogenic fungus Beaveria bassiana (Bals.-Criv.) Vuill. appears to have a sublethal effect on the beetle.
Brown, P. M. J., T. (and 17 co-authors). 2008. Harmonia axyridis in Europe: spread and distribution of a non-native coccinellid. BioControl 53: 5–21.
Bukejs, A. and Telnov, D. 2015. The ﬁrst record of the invasive lady beetle Harmonia axyridis (Pallas, 1773) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in Turkey. Zoology and Ecology 25: 59–62.
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Roy, H.E., Brown, P.M.J., Rothery, P., Ware, R.L. and Majerus, M.E.N. 2008. Interactions between the fungal pathogen Beauveria bassiana and three species of coccinellid: Harmonia axyridis, Coccinella septempunctata and Adalia bipunctata. BioControl 53: 265–276.
Soares, A.O., Coderre, D. and Schanderl, H. 2003. Effect of temperature and intraspecific allometry on predation by two phenotypes of Harmonia axyridis Pallas (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Environmental Entomology 32: 939-944.
van Lenteren, J.C., Loomans, A.J.M., Babendreier, D. and Bigler, F. 2008. Harmonia axyridis: an environmental risk assessment for Northwest Europe. BioControl 53: 37-54.