What is the Japanese Lady Beetle

by April Reinhardt
(last updated June 23, 2009)

Many people confuse ladybugs with the Japanese lady beetle, since they are so similar in appearance. Both insects come from the same family of beetles known as Coccinellidae, with over five thousand known species. In North American, the Japanese lady beetle is called the Asian lady beetle, but in other parts of the world it is known as the Harlequin, Multivariate, Japanese, Pumpkin, or Southern ladybird, the Multicolored Asian lady beetle, and the Halloween lady beetle. While its distant cousin, the ladybug, is known as the ladybird, ladybug, lady beetle, ladyclock, lady cow, and lady fly.

Let's make this a little easier by listing the differences between a ladybug and a Japanese lady beetle:

Color

  • Japanese lady beetles come in three varieties of color, all with spots on their dome in specific quantity and patterns: orange or red dome with black spots; black dome with four red spots; black dome with two red spots. The Japanese lady beetle is further distinguished from the ladybug with its white M- or W-shaped marking on its head.
  • Ladybugs typically have domes of scarlet red, various hues of yellow, or varying shades of orange, all with tiny black spots. The ladybug has a shiny black head, sometimes marked by two tiny white spots. However, some species are entirely or mostly brown, gray, or black.

Size

  • Japanese lady beetles typically grow to 8mm long, with its dome being more convex than the ladybug.
  • Ladybugs can be anywhere from 1mm to 10mm long, with smaller domes than the Japanese lady beetle.

Japanese lady beetles are not native to the United States. The USDA introduced and released them into the country in the late 70's and early 80's as a biological control measure, but the measure failed. Yet, in 1988, the Japanese lady beetle arrived in the US on an Asian freighter and decided to stay. The insect has grown in population since then, making a positive impact by helping to control the destructive aphid population in tree farms.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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