Biological Invasions

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 997–1044 | Cite as

The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis: global perspectives on invasion history and ecology

  • Helen E. RoyEmail author
  • Peter M. J. Brown
  • Tim Adriaens
  • Nick Berkvens
  • Isabel Borges
  • Susana Clusella-Trullas
  • Richard F. Comont
  • Patrick De Clercq
  • Rene Eschen
  • Arnaud Estoup
  • Edward W. Evans
  • Benoit Facon
  • Mary M. Gardiner
  • Artur Gil
  • Audrey A. Grez
  • Thomas Guillemaud
  • Danny Haelewaters
  • Annette Herz
  • Alois Honek
  • Andy G. Howe
  • Cang Hui
  • William D. Hutchison
  • Marc Kenis
  • Robert L. Koch
  • Jan Kulfan
  • Lori Lawson Handley
  • Eric Lombaert
  • Antoon Loomans
  • John Losey
  • Alexander O. Lukashuk
  • Dirk Maes
  • Alexandra Magro
  • Katie M. Murray
  • Gilles San Martin
  • Zdenka Martinkova
  • Ingrid A. Minnaar
  • Oldřich Nedved
  • Marina J. Orlova-Bienkowskaja
  • Naoya Osawa
  • Wolfgang Rabitsch
  • Hans Peter Ravn
  • Gabriele Rondoni
  • Steph L. Rorke
  • Sergey K. Ryndevich
  • May-Guri Saethre
  • John J. Sloggett
  • Antonio Onofre Soares
  • Riaan Stals
  • Matthew C. Tinsley
  • Axel Vandereycken
  • Paul van Wielink
  • Sandra Viglášová
  • Peter Zach
  • Ilya A. Zakharov
  • Tania Zaviezo
  • Zihua Zhao
Insect Invasions


The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), is native to Asia but has been intentionally introduced to many countries as a biological control agent of pest insects. In numerous countries, however, it has been introduced unintentionally. The dramatic spread of H. axyridis within many countries has been met with considerable trepidation. It is a generalist top predator, able to thrive in many habitats and across wide climatic conditions. It poses a threat to biodiversity, particularly aphidophagous insects, through competition and predation, and in many countries adverse effects have been reported on other species, particularly coccinellids. However, the patterns are not consistent around the world and seem to be affected by many factors including landscape and climate. Research on H. axyridis has provided detailed insights into invasion biology from broad patterns and processes to approaches in surveillance and monitoring. An impressive number of studies on this alien species have provided mechanistic evidence alongside models explaining large-scale patterns and processes. The involvement of citizens in monitoring this species in a number of countries around the world is inspiring and has provided data on scales that would be otherwise unachievable. Harmonia axyridis has successfully been used as a model invasive alien species and has been the inspiration for global collaborations at various scales. There is considerable scope to expand the research and associated collaborations, particularly to increase the breadth of parallel studies conducted in the native and invaded regions. Indeed a qualitative comparison of biological traits across the native and invaded range suggests that there are differences which ultimately could influence the population dynamics of this invader. Here we provide an overview of the invasion history and ecology of H. axyridis globally with consideration of future research perspectives. We reflect broadly on the contributions of such research to our understanding of invasion biology while also informing policy and people.


Coccinellidae Biocontrol Species traits Competitive interactions Invasion history 



The paper had its origin at a workshop on “Drivers, impacts, mechanisms and adaptation in insect invasions” hosted by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in November 2014. Additional financial support was provided by HortGro, the National Research Foundation of South Africa, Stellenbosch University, and SubTrop. We thank all our collaborators, and particularly the volunteer community, who have contributed to research around the world on H. axyridis. The number of references included reflects the range of inspiring studies on H. axyridis from so many people—we look forward to new and continued collaborations in the future. We are grateful to the editors of this special issue for inviting this review and providing an opportunity to explore ideas through the “Invasive Insects Workshop funding (NRF South Africa, CIB)”. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for all their useful comments and reflections. The UK Ladybird Survey and associated co-authors are supported by the Biological Records Centre (part of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology), which receives support from both the Natural Environment Research Council and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. The IOBC WPRS and Global Working Groups “Benefits and Risks of Exotic Biological Control Agents” and the COST Action TD1209 “Alien Challenge” have facilitated discussions and collaborations on H. axyridis. This study was supported by the French Agropolis Fondation (Labex Agro-Montpellier, BIOFIS Project Number 1001-001) and by a grant from the ERA-Net BiodivERsA, with the national funders ANR (France), DFG (Germany) and BELSPO (Belgium), as part of the 2012–2013 BiodivERsA call for research proposals. Support has been also received from FONDECYT 1140662 (Chile). The study of M.J. Orlova-Bienkowskaja and I. A. Zakharov was supported by Russian Science Foundation, Project No. 16-16- 00079. Gabriele Rondoni acknowledges financial support from Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Perugia. Riaan Stals acknowledges funding from the Department of Science and Technology, South Africa. The research of Peter Zach and colleagues was funded by the project VEGA 2/0035/13 and VEGA 2/0052/15. A. Honěk and Z. Martinkova were supported by grants GACR 14-26561S and COST CZ LD14084. Research in Switzerland is funded by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment. Hans Peter Ravn was supported by the Villum Foundation. Danny Haelewaters acknowledges funding from the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University and from the Mycological Society of America.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen E. Roy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter M. J. Brown
    • 2
  • Tim Adriaens
    • 3
  • Nick Berkvens
    • 4
  • Isabel Borges
    • 5
  • Susana Clusella-Trullas
    • 6
  • Richard F. Comont
    • 7
  • Patrick De Clercq
    • 8
  • Rene Eschen
    • 9
  • Arnaud Estoup
    • 10
  • Edward W. Evans
    • 11
  • Benoit Facon
    • 10
  • Mary M. Gardiner
    • 12
  • Artur Gil
    • 5
  • Audrey A. Grez
    • 13
  • Thomas Guillemaud
    • 14
    • 15
    • 16
  • Danny Haelewaters
    • 17
    • 18
  • Annette Herz
    • 19
  • Alois Honek
    • 20
  • Andy G. Howe
    • 21
  • Cang Hui
    • 22
    • 23
  • William D. Hutchison
    • 24
  • Marc Kenis
    • 9
  • Robert L. Koch
    • 24
  • Jan Kulfan
    • 25
  • Lori Lawson Handley
    • 26
  • Eric Lombaert
    • 14
    • 15
    • 16
  • Antoon Loomans
    • 27
  • John Losey
    • 28
  • Alexander O. Lukashuk
    • 29
  • Dirk Maes
    • 3
  • Alexandra Magro
    • 30
  • Katie M. Murray
    • 31
  • Gilles San Martin
    • 32
  • Zdenka Martinkova
    • 20
  • Ingrid A. Minnaar
    • 6
  • Oldřich Nedved
    • 33
  • Marina J. Orlova-Bienkowskaja
    • 34
  • Naoya Osawa
    • 35
  • Wolfgang Rabitsch
    • 36
  • Hans Peter Ravn
    • 21
  • Gabriele Rondoni
    • 37
  • Steph L. Rorke
    • 1
  • Sergey K. Ryndevich
    • 38
  • May-Guri Saethre
    • 39
  • John J. Sloggett
    • 40
  • Antonio Onofre Soares
    • 5
  • Riaan Stals
    • 41
  • Matthew C. Tinsley
    • 31
  • Axel Vandereycken
    • 42
  • Paul van Wielink
    • 43
  • Sandra Viglášová
    • 1
    • 25
  • Peter Zach
    • 25
  • Ilya A. Zakharov
    • 44
  • Tania Zaviezo
    • 45
  • Zihua Zhao
    • 46
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology and HydrologyWallingford, OxfordshireUK
  2. 2.Animal and Environment Research GroupAnglia Ruskin UniversityCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO)BrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries ResearchDepartment of Plant Crop Protection EntomologyMerelbekeBelgium
  5. 5.cE3c - ABG - Center for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes and Azorean Biodiversity Group, Department of BiologyUniversity of the AzoresPonta DelgadaPortugal
  6. 6.Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and ZoologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  7. 7.Bumblebee Conservation TrustStirlingUK
  8. 8.Department of Crop ProtectionGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  9. 9.CABIDelémontSwitzerland
  10. 10.Inra, UMR 1062 CbgpMontpellierFrance
  11. 11.Department of BiologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  12. 12.Department of EntomologyThe Ohio State University Ohio Agricultural Research and Development CenterWoosterUSA
  13. 13.Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias y PecuariasUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile
  14. 14.Inra, UMR 1355 ISASophia-AntipolisFrance
  15. 15.Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis, UMR ISASophia-AntipolisFrance
  16. 16.CNRS, UMR 7254 ISASophia-AntipolisFrance
  17. 17.Department of Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  18. 18.Farlow Reference Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic BotanyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  19. 19.Institute for Biological Control, JKIDarmstadtGermany
  20. 20.Crop Research InstitutePrague-RuzyneCzech Republic
  21. 21.Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource ManagementUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksbergDenmark
  22. 22.Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Mathematical SciencesStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  23. 23.The African Institute for Mathematical SciencesCape TownSouth Africa
  24. 24.Department of EntomologyUniversity of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA
  25. 25.Institute of Forest EcologySlovak Academy of SciencesZvolenSlovakia
  26. 26.Evolutionary Biology Group, Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of HullHullUK
  27. 27.Department of Entomology, National Reference CentreNational Plant Protection OrganizationWageningenThe Netherlands
  28. 28.Department of EntomologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  29. 29.Berezinskiy Biosphere Reserve, DomzheritsyLepel Distr.Belarus
  30. 30.University of Toulouse - ENFA, UMR CNRS/UPS/ENFA 5174 Évolution et diversité biologiqueCastanet-TolosanFrance
  31. 31.Biological and Environmental SciencesStirling UniversityStirlingUK
  32. 32.Plant Protection and Ecotoxicology Unit, Life Sciences DepartmentWalloon Agricultural Research CentreGemblouxBelgium
  33. 33.University of South Bohemia and Institute of EntomologyCeske BudejoviceCzech Republic
  34. 34.A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and EvolutionRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  35. 35.Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversitySakyo-ku, KyotoJapan
  36. 36.Environment Agency AustriaViennaAustria
  37. 37.Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  38. 38.Baranovichi State UniversityBaranovichiBelarus
  39. 39.Biotechnology and Plant Health Division, Department of Entomology and NematologyBioforsk - NIBIO-Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy ResearchÅsNorway
  40. 40.Maastricht Science ProgrammeMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  41. 41.South African National Collection of InsectsARC-Plant Protection ResearchPretoriaSouth Africa
  42. 42.Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Functional and Evolutionary EntomologyUniversity of LiegeGemblouxBelgium
  43. 43.Berkel-EnschotThe Netherlands
  44. 44.Vavilov Institute of General GeneticsMoscowRussia
  45. 45.Facultad de Agronomía e Ingeniería ForestalPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  46. 46.Department of EntomologyChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina

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