Posts Tagged: ladybugs
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.
Nature's creatures are nature's features at the Solano County Fair, Vallejo, being held Wednesday, June 23 through Sunday, June 27.
Creative exhibitors, in a "this-bug's-for-you" mood, transformed butterflies, ladybugs and bumble bees into arts and crafts projects being displayed in McCormack Hall. The fair is located at 900 Fairgrounds Drive.
You'll see butterfly-inspired quilts, an educational ladybug display, a table-setting dotted with ladybugs, and huge paper mache bumble bee smiling from ear to ear--oops, from antenna to antenna.
If a county fair is a place to educate, inform and entertain--and it is--these displays do just that.
Sometimes folks think of pollinators only during National Pollinator Week, (under way this week through June 27), but it should be an every-day occurrence.
To appreciate and protect them, we need to be reminded of their existence and their role in our environment, our world and our lives.
"I'm a ladybug. Please, take me home. I want to live in your garden.
I like to eat aphids. Aphids are tiny green insects that are harmful to plants."
"Just like the Grange, I'm a friend to the farmer and you."
Those visiting the California State Grange booth at the California Agriculture Day on Tuesday, March 23 on the state capitol grounds received that welcoming note, two ladybugs, and information about them.
It was an excellent idea--giving away ladybugs, aka ladybird beetles (Hippodamia convergens). These brightly colored beetles with the familiar black spots eat aphids, moth eggs, mites, scales thrips, leafhoppers, mealybugs and other small insects.
We took home two ladybugs and released them on a rose bush in our patio.
They went right to work.
It reminded us of the two ladybugs we received last year from the UC Davis Department of Entomology at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day. They also found a home in our garden.
This year's Picnic Day, the 96th annual, is set April 17. Look for entomological events at Briggs Hall on Kleiber Drive, and at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at 1124 Academic Surge, California Drive.
The Picnic Day theme? "Carpe Davis: Seizing opportunities."
Including the opportunity to take home a couple of ladybugs.
Bugs and kisses.
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...