Meet a Critter: Muticolored Asian Lady Beetle – Harmonia axyridis

Adult Harmonia axyridis on Florida native Wild Lime (Zanthoxylum fagara)
It’s a Ladybird… it’s a Ladybug… it’s a Lady Beetle! These are just a few of the common names used for any one of the 6,000 Coccinellidae that occur throughout the world or the documented 105 or so Coccinellidae species that can be found in Florida. I’ve always called them Ladybugs since childhood and it really makes no difference which common name you use. As usual, common names are useless while there are so many different species of Coccinellidae. Now let’s talk a little bit about Harmonia axyridis, the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle. This is a non-native species and is either considered a pest or a welcome garden visitor as they feed on aphids, thripes, mites, lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) eggs and scale. They were introduced from Asia by humans for biological control and by accident, so if you consider them a Pest, who can you put the blame on? Now they practically cover the entire United States. Lucky for me in South Florida, the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle is not such a problem. In North Florida and other parts of the United States where the temperatures get cold during the winter is where they can become an issue when they overwinter in large numbers. They can overwinter in house walls and other human dwellings. If the dwelling they’ve chosen to overwinter in is warmer than what is required for their dormancy, they might end up on your window dressings, furniture or walls. However, they do not cause structural damage. Instead, they produce a yellow defensive compound that can stain light colored window treatments, walls and furniture. I have personally seen this in the early 2000’s when I lived in Illinois for a brief time. I remember my second floor bedroom being flooded with hundreds of them. Nothing a vacuum cleaner couldn’t handle and I gave them a different common name that I won’t repeat! I also remember mowing the lawn with my shirt off while hundreds flew around and yes, they bite! Again, I consider myself lucky here in South  Florida and consider them natures pest control of aphids and scale, but understand they can be a nuisance having seen both sides of the coin. For information on the Coccinellidae (Ladybugs) of Florida, look here. Fellow wildlife garden blogger, Loret, shows us a comparison of the non-native Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle and our native Cycloneda species in her article, “There are Different Types of Ladybugs?“. 
Harmonia axyridis larvae in Florida native Scorpiontail (Heliotropium angiospermum)


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