Posts Tagged: lady beetles
A lady beetle, aka ladybug, sharing stories with Gulf Fritillary caterpillars?
Well, not likely.
The lady beetle (family Coccinellidae) preys mainly on aphids--it can eat about 50 aphids a day or some 5000 aphids in its lifetime. But it will devour other soft-bodied insects, including mites, scales, mealybugs, leafhoppers, and butterfly eggs and larvae (caterpillars). Butterfly caterpillars move quite slowly; they are not Indy 500 speedsters.
We spotted a lady beetle early this morning on one of our passionflower (Passiflora) seed pods, surrounded by hungry Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) caterpillars. It was somewhat like a two-peas-in-a-pod scene, but without the peas. Here were two insect species ON a pod, and both sharing the same warning color: red.
The Gulf Fritillary caterpillars are hungry. Very hungry. They've stripped the passionflower vine of all its leaves and are now eating the stems and seed pods. Actually, we planted the passionflower vine for them. But are they THAT hungry? They are. They're famished. And there are literally hundreds of them.
Sometimes we think that all of the Gulf Frit butterflies west of Mississippi are gravitating toward the plant to lay their eggs. The vine cannot support that many hungry caterpillars, despite predation by scrub jays and European paper wasps.
The lady beetle, we assume is not only eating the tiny yellow eggs of the Gulf Frit, but the tiniest of the tiny larvae. It's an exquisite buffet of tasty treats with high nutritional value.
And easy pickings.
Lady beetle, aka ladybug, with its new "friends"--Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gulf Fritillary caterpillars move around the lady beetle, aka ladybug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A touching moment. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gulf Fritillary caterpillars will grow up to look like this. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybugs--actually, they're "lady beetles"--are garden heroes. And that's the theme of the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Sunday, March 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, University of California, Davis.
The event is free and open to the public. And, it's family oriented with lots of activities planned, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum.
“This time of year aphids are invading our gardens,” Yang said. “Garden heroes, like lady beetles, help us out.” Other garden heroes include lacewings, bigeyed bugs, assassin bugs, damsel bugs, and soldier beetles. (See a list of natural enemies on the UC Integrated Pest Management website.)
Another key attraction at the Bohart Museum open house will be a return appearance of the Budding Biologist, creator of ecology video games. Budding Biologist is an educational publishing company owned by Kristine Callis-Duehl, who is with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Irvine. This game is loosely based on ecological research being conducted by Louie Yang, assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Walter Hsiao, the video game developer, will be on hand to answer questions about game design.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses nearly eight million specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It is also the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum in 1946.
The year-around gift shop (gifts are also available online) offers t-shirts, jewelry, insect nets, posters and books, including the newly published children's book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” written by UC Davis doctoral candidate Fran Keller and illustrated (watercolor and ink) by Laine Bauer, a 2012 graduate of UC Davis. The 35-page book, geared toward kindergarteners through sixth graders, also includes photos by naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart.
The museum is located near the intersection of LaRue Road and Crocker Lane. The museum's regular public hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Group tours can be arranged with Tabatha Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-0493. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and UC Davis holidays./span>
A ladybug grabbing an aphid. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybug prowling for aphids on brittlebush, Encelia californica. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybug "walking the line." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Happy Valentine's Day!
While everyone else hands out little pink candy conversation hearts proclaiming "Bee Mine," "Miss You," "Call Me," "Kiss Me," and "I Love You," insect enthusiasts post photos of bugs "keeping busy."
We spotted an unforgettable scene recently in a flower patch behind the UC Davis Lab Sciences Building. The ladybugs (actually they're "lady beetles" because they're not bugs) were devouring aphids on the brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), a desert shrub we see throughout California, northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States.
Quite contentedly, we might add. And doing a great job, we might also add.
But that's not all they were doing.
Brittlebush makes a good dining room, living room and bedroom.
Soon the flower patch will turn into a nursery.
Ladybugs (lady beetles) "keeping busy" on brittlebush. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Love is where you find it.
And sometimes you find it in a bean field.
Take the UC Dry Bean Field Day on Sept. 5 at UC Davis. As researchers, growers, UC Cooperative Extension personnel, industry representatives and other interested personnel fanned out in the bean fields west of the central campus, they may not have noticed the red among the green.
Two lady beetles, aka ladybugs, were doing what comes naturally.
We need more beneficial insects!
Love in the bean field at the UC Dry Bean Field Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Consider the lady beetle, aka ladybug.
It's not a bug, but a beetle. It belong to the family Coccinellidae, and scientists have described about 5000 species worldwide, and about 450 in North America.
Some quick facts...
Ladybugs are not always red with black spots. The colors can be red, yellow, orange, gray, black, brown and pink. And, not all ladybugs have spots. Some have stripes and some have neither spots nor stripes.
Coccinellid are omnivores, dining on soft-bodied insects such as aphids, as well as plants. Aphids? A single ladybug can eat some 5000 aphids during its short life span of three to six weeks.
Ladybugs are considered good luck. If a ladybug lands on you, Lady Luck is supposed to smile on you.
This ladybug (below) landed on me on the grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
I'm still waiting for Lady Luck.
When a ladybug lands on you, it's considered good luck. A gentle push and this one took flight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)