Posts Tagged: lady beetles
Ladybugs, aka ladybeetles (family Coccinellidae), are best known for devouring aphids, those pesky little critters that suck plant juices.
But have you ever seen ladybugs gobbling ants?
There's a three-way predator-prey relationship here. When aphids pierce plant stems, they leave behind honeydew excretions. Ants scurry to the honeydew and quickly alert their buddies. Soon, you'll see a long trail of ants marching toward the honeydew.
Now enter the ladybug, which is attracted--quite nicely, thank you--to both aphids and ants.
This little beetle will feast on aphids and ants much like we humans chow down on popcorn and jelly beans at a movie.
In the photos below, unsuspecting ants climbed a lavender stalk, only to meet their demise.
If you look on You Tube, you'll see a video of an apparently famished ladybug chowing down ants. The background music of Queen's "We Will Rock You" adds the finishing touch.
Want to learn more about ants? Check out professor Phil Ward's website. He's a noted myrmecologist (one who studies the taxonomy, evolution, biogeography and behavior of ants) and a professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.
One of his former graduate students, Alex Wild, has incredible insect photography on his website, appropriately named myrmecos.net.
Ladybugs, aka ladybird beetles, are searching for aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
If you see a ladybug (family Coccinellidae), odds are you'll see her prey, the plant-sucking aphids.
Today we spotted a ladybug in a flower garden on the UC Davis campus and she wasn't there to enjoy the warm sunshine or watch the students go by.
She was there to dine.
The ladybug snared a few aphids, then flipped under a leaf like an Olympic athlete performing a daily routine.
She wasn't going for a gold medal, though. She was heading for another kind of gold--a gold aphid.
Face to Face
Ladybugs are easy to "spot."
As soon as the weather warms and those dratted plant-sucking aphids emerge, here come the polka-dotted ladybugs. The prey and the predator. The pest and the beneficial insect. The bad and the good.
Actually, many folks have already reported ladybug sightings. Facebook friends are photographing them and posting macro images. Ray Lopez of El Rancho Nursery in Vacaville said he's seen scores of them this season. The building that houses Fox 40 in Sacramento is resplendent with them.
In fact, tomorrow morning (Wednesday, Feb. 24) senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, will be interviewed by Fox 40 on that very subject: ladybugs! Look for a 7:20 a.m. live interview.
An article in today's Science Daily calls aphids "the mosquitoes" of the plant world. That's because they depend on the "blood" of plants to survive.
David Stern, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, is quoted as saying "Look at this little insect, sitting on a plant and sucking plant juices. You don't realize that it is involved in a historic battle with plants for access to its life blood. All its genes have evolved to allow it to exploit its feeding relationship."
The article, about how an aphid's genome reflects its reproductive, symbiotic lifestyle, points out that an aphid can reproduce both sexually and asexually."
That's certainly a key factor in the aphids' evolutionary success.
All the more for the hungry ladybugs.
So, whether you call them "ladybugs" or "lady beetles" or by their family (beetle) name, Coccinellidae, they're found worldwide, with more than 5000 described species.
And they're coming to a garden near you...
Ladybugs love our Russian sage.
Ladybugs, aka ladybird beetles, eat aphids, which are pests in the garden. The ladybugs are welcome. The aphids are not.
Belonging to the family Coccinellidae, ladybugs look resplendent in their bright red or orange wing covers, dotted with spots. They'd surely be the center of attention at a Bug Ball. Luck be a lady.
We see immature ladybugs going through metamorphosis. Last weekend, we witnessed a pupa sheddding its skin. Exvium is a biological marvel.
If you want to see a ladybug eating an aphid, you'll have to watch the 44-minute film presentation, "Biological Control of Greenhouse Pests with Natural Arthropod Enemies," to be shown at 12:15 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 15 in 122 Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus. It's the work of professor Urs Wyss of the Institute of Phytopathology, Kiel University, Germany, who will be there to discuss the film. It shows ladybugs stalking, capturing, killing and eating aphids--not necessarily in that order.
What's unique about this film is the amazing photography. "All recordings were made with a special stereomicroscope and camera, magnified to a high degree," Wyss says.
We first saw the film on May 16 at the UC Davis Entomology Club meeting. Michael Parrella, entomology professor and associate dean of the Division of Agricultural Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, narrated it.
You'll never forget the sucking and slurping noises as predators devour their prey!
Ladybug pupa on sage
Pupa shedding skin