The picture on the left shows some of the variations in the appearance of the Harlequin Ladybird. As you can see the colouring of this species is extremely variable which can make it difficult to identify, but the information below should help differentiate Harlequins from native ladybird species...
Harlequins are larger than the majority of our native species - approximately 6-8 mm. Our native 7-spot Ladybirds are similar in size, but the Harlequins don't have
the same arrangement of spots. The Scarce 7-spot Ladybirds are a similar size too, but are always found near wood ants nests. The Harlequin isn't.
The body is much rounder than most other ladybirds found in the UK.
Harlequin Ladybirds can be red, orange or mainly black (melanic). Native melanic ladybirds are rarely seen and they are usually much smaller.
Harlequins can have anything from 0 - 19 black spots which vary in size. If you find a black Harlequin it will usually have 4 red patches.
The legs of Harlequins are an orange-brown colour and the hind rim of the underside is quite orange-red. Our other large ladybird, the 'Eyed Ladybird' has black legs.
Harlequins have a triangular white patch on their heads. Our native Cream-spot Ladybird always has a reddish forebody with no white patches.