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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353

S. Afr. j. sci. vol.103 n.3-4 Pretoria Mar./Apr. 2007




Discovery of an alien invasive, predatory insect in South Africa: The multicoloured Asian ladybird beetle, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)



Riaan StalsI; Goddy PrinslooII

INational Collection of Insects, ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute, Private Bag X134, Queenswood, Pretoria 0121, South Africa
IIPlant Protection Division, ARC-Small Grain Institute, Private Bag X29, Bethlehem 9700, South Africa




The Asian ladybird beetle, Harmonia axyridis (HA) (Insecta: Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), is a generalist predator long valued as a biocontrol agent of pestiferous aphids and other invertebrates. However, HA has become highly invasive in North America and Europe. The beetle is eurytopic, broadly polyphagous, very dispersive and pheno-typically highly plastic. In the United States and Europe, this pest is implicated in adverse ecological impacts involving changes in invaded communities through interspecific competition and intraguild predation. Additionally, HA can be a household nuisance, and affect human health and agricultural production. The beetle has now reached South Africa. A founder population has become established in the Western Cape province, and the species has also been collected in the Eastern Cape province. We present illustrated diagnoses of HA and selected resident South African Coccinellidae with which it may be confused. There is reason to suspect that HA will spread rapidly through much of South Africa and beyond and bring to bear its negative consequences here. The early detection of this incursion presents a rare opportunity to study an anticipated biological invasion virtually from its beginning.



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We thank Helmut Fürsch (Ruderting, Germany), Robert D. Gordon (Willow City, U.S.A.), Manfred Uhlig (Berlin, Germany), Margie Cochrane (SAMC) and Colleen Hepburn (Rhodes University, Grahamstown) for helpful information; James Harrison and Ruth Müller (TMSA) for access to the specimen collection in their care; Beth Grobbelaar (SANC) for photographing the adults; and Gerhard Prinsloo (SANC) and two anonymous referees for constructive comments.
* Author for correspondence. E-mail:

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