The current study examines the potential of the multicoloured Asian lady beetle Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) to use pollen as a food to sustain development and reproduction in the absence of insect prey. Three populations of H. axyridis were used in this study: a long-term laboratory population (since 1998) and a melanic and non-melanic population originating from field collected individuals in Belgium. The insects were allowed to develop and reproduce on frozen eggs of Ephestia kuehniella Zeller (Lepidoptera: Phycitidae), frozen moist bee pollen or an even mixture of the two. Females of the field population offered the mixed diet initiated oviposition sooner than those fed only E. kuehniella eggs, but other developmental and reproductive traits were similar on these diets. A diet of pollen alone allowed 35-48% of the larvae of the field population of H. axyridis to successfully reach adulthood. However, developmental time for these individuals was prolonged by 31-49% and adult body weight was reduced by 37-68%, compared to individuals offered the diets containing E. kuehniella eggs. When fed exclusively on pollen in their larval and adult life, about 40% of the adult females of either field population were able to produce a small number of viable eggs. The laboratory and field strains differed in their response to diet for a number of developmental and reproductive traits. The exploitation of pollen and other plant foods at times when insect prey is scarce, may offer a further competitive advantage to the non-indigenous coccinellid H. axyridis over native European predatory lady beetles that share the same niche and are less capable of using pollen as an alternative food.