Posts Tagged: aphids
I don't know how long they'd been in the container, but they were anxious to leave. If you're a ladybug, a house is not a home without aphids.
Members of the California State Grange distributed these tiny containers of ladybugs at the California Agriculture Day on Wednesday on the State Capitol grounds. Grateful little kids excitedly exclaimed "Ladybugs! Ladybugs!" Their parents murmured "Yes! Yes! Great for the garden."
And that's exactly what we did with ours.
We had a red rose bush just waiting for them.
We removed the lid, tipped the container, and the two ladybugs raced out, right to an all-you-can-eat buffet of juicy aphids.
If you're yearning for your very own ladybugs, be sure to attend the 98th annual UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 21. The statewide UC Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) traditionally gives away ladybugs at the entrance to Briggs Hall.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology, housed in Briggs Hall, will be hosting cockroach races, termite trails, maggot art and honey tasting and scores of other activities. This year, due to popular demand, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen will be doubling the amount of honey. (Check out last year's entomological photos at Briggs Hall and at the Bohart Museum of Entomology.)
Meanwhile, the good folks planning the campuswide Picnic Day invite all to attend. They wrote on their website: "This family friendly event is free for all to come and experience the richness of diversity and achievement at UC Davis and the surrounding community in the areas of research, teaching, service and campus life."
And experience the wonderful world of ladybugs!
Ladybug devouring an aphid on a rose bush. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The tender shoots of fava bean blossoms are attracting scores of aphids, which suits the ladybugs just fine.
Nothing like an all-you-can-eat aphid buffet.
The aphid population is growing rapidly. And the ladybugs, aka lady beetles or ladybird beetles, are trying to keep up by (1) increasing the population and (2) increasing their voracious appetites.
Good thing, too!
The ones we saw in the haven today were the seven-spotted ladybugs. Of the more than 5000 described species in the Coccinellidae family, more than 450 are native to North America.
Gary Zamzow of Davis, one of the volunteers at the haven who keeps the site looking beautiful, says he sees the seven-spotted ladybug and the 12-spotted ladybug a lot in Davis. He hopes that the Harlequin ladybug doesn't take over.
He shared these links:
Ladybug Decline Driven by 'Invading' Harlequin (BBC Report from the UK)
The Harlequin Ladybug (Wikipedia)
So, the next time you see a ladybug, see what it is.
Ladybugs in the fava beans at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Note the scores of aphids behind the ladybugs. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybug crawls past some aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What's that little green bug on the head of the Gaillardia?
It's soft-bodied. It's miniscule. It's sucking plant juices.
We captured an image of this little green bugger shortly after we purchased several plants from an area nursery. It's a good idea to check your plants for aphids and other critters before you buy them or transplant them in your garden.
Gaillardia is a hearty plant, but it's troubled by aster yellows, a viruslike disease transmitted by those nasty aphids and leafhoppers.
A green aphid may look pretty on a reddish flower, but it is not your friend. It sucks plant juices, transmits diseases, and produces as many as 80 offspring within a week. Then there's that sticky, unsightly honeydew it secretes--and which ants tend.
California alone has more than 450 species of aphids, and they come in some of your favorite colors, including green, yellow, red, brown and black.
Favorite colors, but that's it. Nobody likes 'em...'cept for ladybugs, lacewings and syrphid flies...
Green aphid on Gaillardia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is a root aphid, which measures 3mm to less than 1mm long. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"Chantilly lace, have a pretty face..."
When Jerry Lee Lewis belted out those lyrics in his No. 1 hit, "Chantilly Lace," back in 1972, he wasn't thinking of a green lacewing.
Perhaps he should have been.
The green lacewing is a delicate insect with transparent wings, an elongated green body, and gold or copper-colored eyes. When the late afternoon sun sets it aglow, you can't find a more beautiful insect.
It's not only pretty--it's beneficial. Its larvae, sometimes called "aphid lions," prey upon aphids, mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, leafhoppers, psyllids, tiny caterpillars and insect eggs. And sometimes they devour each other.
As adults, lacewings feed on pollen, nectar and honeydew.
Entomologists place the insect in the family Chrysopidae, suborder Planipennia, order Neuroptera and class Insecta.
Gardeners? If they had their way, they'd place the green lacewing on a pedestal.
Copper eyes of a green lacewing glow in the late afternoon sun. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mother's Day, insect-style, dawned like any other day. In our back yard, golden honey bees foraged in the lavender and those ever-so-tiny sweat bees visited the rock purslane.
The honey bees? Those gorgeous Italians.
The sweat bees? Genus Lasioglossum, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. He figures the female sweat bee (below) may be L. mellipes, which is brownish toward the tips of the hind legs.
A trip to Benicia yielded a photo of a ladybug chasing aphids. It was almost comical. A fat aphid appeared to be playing "King of the Hill" while other aphids sucked contentedly on plant juices, unaware of pending predators.
While the aphids wreaked havoc on a very stressed Escallonia (fast-growing hedge in the family Escalloniaceae), the ladybugs, aka lady beetles, wreaked havoc on some very stressed aphids.
After all, "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts."
Italian honey bee foraging on lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sweat bee (genus Lasioglossum) visiting rock purslane. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybug, aka lady beetle, chasing aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)