Identification and recognition of the Harlequin Ladybird
 
The identification of any ladybird suspected as being a Harlequin should be fairly straight forward. However, there are a few potential species which at first glance (or to the inexperienced observer) may appear to be Harlequins.

Given the large increase in numbers found near Hare Hill Wood recently, the Harlequin is now very likely to be firmly established elsewhere in Nottinghamshire. Given that numbers will increase over the next few years, it is also extremely likely that the variety of variants will be considerable at any site supporting Harlequin Ladybirds. This page should allow the relatively easy separation and identification of any Harlequin variants from our resident species.

There are three main forms of the Harlequin - succinea, spectabilis and conspicua. Each of these three forms show large amounts of variation within them. Most are shown in the following photographs and possible confusion species are depicted alongside.

   
Harlequin Ladybird H. axyridis f. succinea
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Possible confusion species with H. axyridis f. succinea  
Eyed and 7-spot Ladybird are the only species likely to cause any Harlequin ID pitfalls with the form succinea in Nottinghamshire at the moment. Although almost as large as the Harlequin, both Cream-streaked and Striped Ladybirds tend to favour large areas of Pine woodland, so any potential Harlequin found in such habitat should be checked with these.
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Eyed Ladybird 7-spot Ladybird Striped Ladybird Cream-steaked Ladybird
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Eyed Ladybird is a large species. There is sometimes some variation in the amount of spotting, but the background colour ramains fairly constant. The spots are usually edged with yellow, but this is sometimes faint or virtually absent.The 7-spot Ladybird varies little and true variants are very rare. Of the thousands my wife and I have seen during Summer 2006, the only variation shown has been in the strength of the spotting. There are always seven spots.
     
Harlequin Ladybird H. axyridis f. spectabilis Harlequin Ladybird H. axyridis f. conspicua
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Possible confusion species with H. axyridis f. spectabilis and f. conspicua
None - Whilst several other UK/Nottinghamshire species are coloured and marked similarly, the difference in size is considerable. Heather, Pine, Kidney-spot and variant 10-spot Ladybirds are all less than 6mm in length.
         
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