How to identify and control harlequin ladybirds

A group of harlequin ladybirds.
There are different varieties of harlequin ladybird, from orange, to black with red spots, and more.

Ladybirds belong to the family of beetles, with at least 3,500 species worldwide. In the UK, there are 46 species.

As the weather begins to cool, ladybirds will begin to wind down and start preparing for hibernation. This is known as diapause.

The adults of some species of ladybird will hibernate individually, finding cracks in bark or rocks to hunker down for the cold winter months.

When the weather starts to warm up, they'll emerge from their diapause to mate and lay eggs. The larvae then develop, pupate and hatch as adults.

Ladybirds may try to gain entrance to your home if there are no suitable natural habitats. The easiest way for them to do this is through the small gaps along the edges of loose-fitting windows.

What do harlequin ladybirds look like?

Around 26 species of ladybird in the UK are known as 'conspicuous ladybirds'. These tend to be brightly coloured, with many of them sporting classic red and black polka dots.

The remaining 20 species of ladybird in the UK are known as 'inconspicuous ladybirds'. They look rather drab in comparison.

Harlequin ladybirds were originally from Russia, China and Japan in 2004. There are different varieties, from orange, to black with red spots, and more.

They tend to be around the same size or slightly larger than native species. They also have 2 white spots on their thorax.

Native ladybirds are black underneath with black legs. Most harlequin ladybirds are orange.

What do ladybirds eat?

Ladybirds and their larvae eat other insects with soft bodies, including:

  • Aphids.
  • Mites.
  • White flies.
  • Scale insects.

Most of the insects ladybirds eat are pests of plants, so farmers and gardeners love them.

How to control or treat ladybirds

If you want to stop the ladybirds from entering your home, make sure your doors and windows are fully sealed and insulated.

If large numbers of ladybirds occur, you may choose to use a residual chemical spray. There are also indoor ladybird traps available.