The current study examines the effect of photoperiod (16:08 or 12:12 h L:D) and diet (eggs of Ephestia kuehniella Zeller (Lepidoptera: Phycitidae) or the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris) (Hemiptera: Aphididae)) on the development and reproduction of the multicoloured Asian lady beetle Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). A long-term laboratory population of H. axyridis (since 1998) and a melanic and non-melanic population originating from field collected individuals of H. axyridis in Belgium were used in this study. Long day conditions (16 h photoperiod) shortened development of the field populations with 2-3 days when compared with short day conditions (12 h photoperiod). Oviposition in the field populations was delayed by 1-3 months when reared at a 12 h photoperiod. Dissections indicated that the females were in reproductive diapause. As compared with live pea aphids, a diet consisting of E. kuehniella eggs yielded heavier adult body weights (up to 12%) and increased the number of egg laying days (by 45-169%) for both field populations at a 16 h photoperiod and lengthened adult life span (by 45-92%) under both light regimens. The morph types differed in their response to the foods offered in terms of developmental rate, pre-oviposition period and number of oviposition days. The laboratory and field strains responded differentially to regimens of food and photoperiod. The study indicated a greater nutritional plasticity of the non-melanic morphs which may offer them a competitive advantage that may in part explain the predominance of non-melanic morphs in newly colonized areas.