Slītere National Park, Kolkasrags bird watching tower
Harlequin (Harmonia axyridis) was first introduced in Western Europe to fight aphids in French greenhouses in 1982. At the same time, the diverse ladybug became commercially available as a biological plant protection product. Without control over its spread, from 1991 to 2012 it spread to almost all countries in Western, Central, Eastern and Northern Europe. So far, it is not widespread in Latvia.
A fairly large ladybug (5.5–7 mm) with an oval form, shaped like a dome. It is a polymorph species with three main colour forms: red or orange with a different number of spots on the wing coverings, which can number up to 21 or may not be present at all; the black form is with two or four orange spots. The black form of the harlequin is most frequently found in its natural range (eastern Asia), the red and orange forms are more frequently found in Europe and North America.
The eggs are yellow and about 1,2 mm long. Shortly before they hatch, the eggs are darker with a grey and black colour.
The larva is bright orange with elongated black spots. The ladybugs are black with orange lines. The larvae slightly resemble small, black-orange alligators.
Manner of introduction
Introduced in western Europe to combat the aphid population and in some place became commercially available as a biuological plant protection measure.
Characteristics of growing conditions
Found in various forest habitats including tree alleys, small anthropogenically affected forest areas, old clearings, young stands, agricultural lands, gardens, populated areas, parks, also enter various buildings.
Familiarize yourself with invasive species and submit your observataions to: “Invazīvo sugu pārvaldnieks”.
Source: “Invazīvo sugu pārvaldnieks”, Nature Conservation Agency