You've seen the Succinea (multi-spotted) form of the invading Harlequin Ladybird.
Yesterday I showed you the Conspicua (orange targets on black elytra) form.
Today I present to you the last of the most common forms of the Harlequin Ladybird, the Spectabilis form.
This example was found by Anna in the lower paddock this afternoon.
I should point out that is my little finger in the photos, not Anna's!The Spectabilis form of the Harlequin Ladybird, like its brethren, is a large, fast, hardy, late-breeding Ladybird. It has black elytra with 4 red marks (pustules - like the melanistic quadripustulata form of the smaller, earlier breeding, native 2-spot Ladybird). It differs from that Ladybird in its size (its almost twice as big, and it has very distinctive white "rounds" on its pronotum (the bit behind the head). The melanistic 2-spot may be missing any white on its pronotum, or just have a couple of white lines.
Our garden seems completely over-run with these invading Harlequin Ladybirds, their larvae and pupae at present. I counted 7 larvae or pupae on one small part of the rear fence this morning.
In that total included a very orange pupa. I am reliably informed that this too is a Harlequin pupa (normally far more black) and one can tell it is by looking at its point of contact with the surface it is attached to. If you can clearly see spikes there - you've got yourself a nasty Harlequin Ladybird pupa.
Well. Thats the THREE most common forms of Harlequin Ladybirds there are. It varies a lot in colour and spots - there doesn't seem to be any significance in that. What IS significant though, is the amount of black in the elytra (wing cases) especially late in the year. I'm seeing this graphically demonstrated this year in our own garden. It is another adaptation to its new environments - it can warm up faster when more black is present in the elytra - it absorbs the weak sunshine far easier than, oh, I don't know, many of our native Ladybirds such as the 7-spot Ladybird, which is FAR less variable than the Harlequin in colour.
Harlequins can and do breed as late as December in the UK, if there is a short warmish spell, and if you're sitting in Scotland now, thinking you're safe.... not so.
Harlequins are spreading FAST, and although not all over Scotland yet, are present in numbers and have even made it as far north as Norway.
Should you squash them?
Not if you have Buddhist tendencies. You'd have to be sure. Many of our native Ladybirds do look similar.
I'm not sure if it would do any good anyway to be honest. There are too many of them, and it looks like they are here for good.
If you find one then?
Check out "Blue-Grey" of course.
Be sure of what you have found.
Then do what you will.
I won't tell. Honest.