One of the other names of the harlequin ladybird is the multi-coloured Asian ladybird. This is because difference individuals may have very different colours and patterns. Of the harlequins reported in Britain so far, the majority are either mainly orange varying through to red, with black spots, or black with large orange or red spots. Those that have black spots on paler background can have anything from zero up to 21 spots.

The mainly black harlequins, which are called melanic forms because the black pigment is melanin, usually have either two or four large orange or red spots on the wing cases.

In its native Asia, the harlequin has many other colour pattern varieties, including one with a checker-board type pattern, but these have not yet been found in Britain.