Posts Tagged: lady beetle
What's for lunch?
If you're a lady beetle (aka ladybug), a good bet is you'll have one of those yummy, plant-sucking aphids. In fact, you'll eat your fill. Please do.
Today we walked behind the Life Sciences Building on the UC Davis campus and encountered scores of our polka-dotted, six-legged, dome-shaped buddies hunting for prey.
It was easy pickings.
This was a fast predator in a slow food movement.
Aphids were everywhere on the brittlebush (Encelia farinosa).
Call lady beetles what you will. Ladybirds. Lady beetles. Ladybugs. Coccinelles. Beneficial insects. All of the above.
Most people in America, however, know this insect as a "ladybug." It's actually not a true bug but a beetle. It's a member of the Coccinellidae family. Coccinelid is Latin for "scarlet," but not all lady beetles are scarlet with black spots. Some are yellow, orange and brown, and some with spots and some without.
You'll find coccinellids worldwide as there are more than 5,000 species, and of that number, more than 450 are native to North America, according to Wikipedia.
And they all "do lunch" with aphids, scales and other soft-bodied insects.
Lady beetle, aka ladybug, devouring an aphid. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Predator and the prey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Saturated. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The aphids know how to plan a family reunion.
Grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, mom and pop, brothers and sisters, cousins and more cousins--they're all gathering to feed on the lush growth of the spring roses, the juicy shoots, the tender buds. And they multiply. You think rabbits multiply fast? Try aphids.
A telltale sign of their presence: Crumpled white carcasses and leaves coated with sticky honeydew.
A strong blast of water and the aphids are gone.
Well, at least some of them.
We watched a sole ladybug, aka ladybeetle, feasting on an aphid buffet on Easter Sunday. So many aphids, and so much time. All the aphids on her menu were green, but they come in yellow, brown and black, too.
The aphids crawled along the rose stems, bumping their cornicles or tubelike structures into one another, unaware of the looming red predator in their midst.
Until it was too late.
Aphid reunion on a rose. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A gorged ladybug has just polished off a row of aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When a ladybug landed on a gaura in our bee friendly garden, it was business as usual.
The business: eating aphids.
The rose aphids sucking the plant juices from the tender shoot didn't last long.
This is why ladybugs are known as "beneficial insects."
You gotta love those ladybugs.
Tower of Aphids
Eye to Eye
There she was, snuggled beneath a garbage can lid, seeking warmth as temperatures dipped to freezing levels.
She was lucky.
It was City Garbage Pick-Up Day. She could have been trucked to the local landfill had we not rescued her.
Luck be a lady and she was.
The little lady, aka ladybug, aka lady beetle, aka L-bug, survived.
She'll stay in the garden.
On the Move
Off and Running
For my New Year's resolution, I resolve to turn over a new leaf.
Oh, sure, most folks resolve to eat less, exercise more, drink less, read more, stress less, save more, gripe less, and volunteer more.
I'm turning over a new leaf.
You never know what kind of insect you'll find there or what kind of insect will "pose" for you.
Happy New Year! (And may one of your resolutions involve "turning over a new leaf.")