Posts Tagged: ladybugs
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...
Insects are cold-blooded so their temperature coincides with their environment.
Before the sun rises, they lie ever so still. As the sun warms them, they stir ever so slowly.
At 6 a.m. yesterday, we checked the roses for aphids (yes, they were there) and so were the predators: the soldier beetles and ladybugs.
A soldier beetle crawled to the edge of a leaf. A ladybug cartwheeled over a leaf and then clung to the tip.
Breakfast is ready!
Aphid in early morning sun
In a matter of days, the aphids discovered our newly purchased rose bushes.
They clustered around the buds and unfolding leaves, piercing the tender stems and sucking the plant juices as if there were no tomorrow.
For some of them, there would be no tomorrow.
A ladybug arrived and began feasting on the colony of aphids, like a 10-year-old kid with a bag of french fries from a fast food place.
She gobbled the aphids and then, satiated, off she flew.
With spray from a garden hose, we knocked the aphids off.
Something tells me the aphids will be back.
But so will the ladybugs.
Aphids on Rose Bush
Not a Rosy Situation
Feast for One
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