Length: 5-8 mm
Harmonia axyridis masses indoors during the cooler months, annoying the humans who unwillingly provide them shelter. The species was introduced from Asia to help with garden pest control.
Harmonia axyridis is highly variable, both as to the markings and the background color. Some are essentially spotless while others have twenty spots on the wing covers. Some are yellowish while others are dark reddish orange. Commonly there is a black "M" on the white area behind the heador a "W" if you're viewing the insect head-on.
The Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle was first reported in the United States in 1988, in Louisiana, apparently as the result of accidental introduction. The species was also deliberately introduced for aphid control, and soon was well-established (Brown and Miller, 1998). Most of the 48 contiguous states have records of this species, though it is less commonly encountered (so far!) in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions, and in the arid southwestern U.S. It has been recorded from a number of Canadian provinces.
M.W. Brown and S.S. Miller surveyed the literature and studied the relative abundance of native and introduced ladybirds in West Virginia apple orchards. They found that over a fourteen year period, 1983-1996, twenty-five species of ladybirds were documented feeding in Mountain State apple orchards. Four other species were attracted to sticky traps or to lights in the orchards, but were not documented feeding, for a total of twenty-nine species present (Brown and Miller, 1998).
Brown and Miller showed how another exotic species, Coccinella septempunctata quickly became the most common Coccinellini species by 1985. Coccinella septempunctata in turn was displaced by Harmonia axyridis as the most abundant Coccinellini species by 1995. In both cases, the exotic species rose to most-abundant status only 1-2 years after they first appeared in West Virginia orchards. Brown and Miller report that, of other ladybird species, Adalia bipunctata, Cycloneda munda, Anatis labiculata, and Olla v-nigrum "have not been seen in apple orchards in the three years since H. axyridis appeared." The authors do report that Harmonia axyridis is doing an excellent job with aphid control in the orchards (Brown and Miller, 1998).
Left: A scene from the photographer's house in Upshur County. Harmonia axyridis congregate on windows, walk on ceilings, and hide in paneling and siding.
Insects of West Virginia