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M for Harlequin

When I was clearing a bed on the plot a few weeks ago ladybirds were scurrying here, there and everywhere.

I didn't manage a photo of these fast moving individuals but I did manage to take a photograph of one mooching about on a blackberry leaf.
It can be quite tricky deciding whether a ladybird is a Native Species or a harlequin invader.
I know that a harlequin is usually larger - if it is less than 5mm it definitely isn't a harlequin, however some Native species are larger than 5mm. Besides who carries a tape measure about 4mm and 5mm wouldn't look so different to the naked eye.

If it is red with 7 distinct spots it is our native 7 spot ladybird. The one below was quite big but had 7 spots so I guess that it's one of ours.

I have read that one way to recognise a harlequin is by a M or trapezium marking behind its head so this individual must be a harlequin - unless you know something different.
It's much easier to identify the harlequin's spiky larvae.
The larvae of our native species hasn't any spikes, 

I posted about the ladybird life cycle here

We put together this video in 2007 which shows our native ladybird larva but be warned the quality is 2007 standard.

Maybe we should try for an updated version.

There are 3500 species of ladybirds worldwide of these 46 are considered UK residents. An identification sheet can be found here.

Have you a foolproof method of identifying an adult harlequin?

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments author S Garrett

This post first appeared on Our Plot At Green Lane Allotments, please read the originial post: here

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M for Harlequin


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