Posts Tagged: ladybug
It was a pomegranate kind of day. Red, bright and wonderful.
The papery-thin reddish blossoms in our yard draw both beneficial and pestiferous insects. Honey bees are there for the pollen and nectar; ladybugs are there for the pesky aphids. Occasionally we see another pest, the spotted cucumber beetle (which prefers cucurbits).
The pomegranate, an ancient fruit native to Persia (what is now Iran), is a long-lived tree. Indeed, some pomegranate trees in Europe are more than 200 years old. One in our yard spans 85 years.
Spanish settlers introduced the pomegranate into California in 1769, and today, the state leads the nation in the production of pomegranates. Agricultural statistics show that in 2010, California's San Joaquin Valley alone blossomed with an estimated 22,000 acres of pomegranates. That's about 200 trees per acre.
One of the primary pomegranate varieties is "Wonderful." The honey bees and ladybugs think so, too!
Honey bee nearly collides with a ladybug, aka ladybeetle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A pest, a spotted cucumber beetle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee foraging in pomegranate blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
On a visit last week to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, we saw a paper wasp (genus Mischocyttarus) foraging in the fava beans with assorted ladybugs, aphids and ants.
This particular genus is characterized by a long, narrow petiole between the thorax and abdomen. Talk about narrow! We wouldn't be surprised if the term, "wasp waist" (referring to women girdling their waists in the 19th and 20th century to look "becoming") originated with Mischocyttarus.
The meaning of Mischocyttarus? It comes from two Greek words, mischos meaning "stalk" and kyttaros meaning "cell of a honeycomb."
Its family is Vespidae (yellowjackets, paper wasps, and hornets; and potter, mason and pollen wasps) and its subfamily is Polistinae (paper wasps).
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, is full of surprises throughout the year as insects share the garden meant for pollinators, especially honey bees.
The haven is open from dawn to dusk for self-guided tours; no admission is charged. The Department of Entomology is now offering guided tours ($4 per person).
Paper wasp from the genus Mischocyttarus, goes head to head with a ladybug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Paper wasp crawls past a ladybug. Note the ant by the other ladybug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This photo clearly shows the long, narrow petiole between the thorax and abdomen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of paper wasp (genus Mischocyttarus). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Tabatha Yang saw it first.
She's the education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis.
What she saw--in a grassy field at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central campus--was a golden ladybug, aka lady beetle.
It looked just like a yellow jelly bean.
Systemic entomologist Natalia Vandenberg of the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, identified it as Coccinella septempunctata.
Tabatha is "holding an adult ladybug that is newly eclosed from the pupa," Vandenberg said. "Note that the flight wings are yellow in the teneral adult instead of grey and they are stretched out so that they can expand fully and dry properly. The pronotal markings and body shape identify this as a member of the genus Coccinella. When the adult first leaves the pupa the dark pigment of the pronotum is already present, but the elytral spots develop gradually."
"If you had watched the beetle for 15 minutes the spots would begin to show. There is a spotless Coccinella that occurs in California (C. californica), but what you have is most likely to be a 7 spot that hasn’t developed the spots yet."
We watched it for several minutes and then released it back into its habitat.
By now, it's no doubt formed those characteristic spots.
Somewhere out there is a yellow jelly bean....with spots.
Golden ladybug, Coccinella septempunctata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Zipping along, a golden ladybug, Coccinella septempunctata. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybugs, aka ladybird beetles, are out there.
Walk through the garden and they're easy to find.
Last weekend we spotted one tucked in the heart of an artichoke, another climbing a nectarine tree, and still another perched on an artichoke leaf.
They're doing what they're supposed to do--eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
Red on green--how beautiful is that?
If you're keen on ladybugs--and you ought to be--you'll want to check out Cornell University's Lost Ladybug Project, once confined to New York state and now a nationwide project. It all began in 2000 when Cornell researchers joined the 4-H Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners to survey ladybug populations throughout the state. Now "citizen scientists" participate in ladybug surveys across the country.
The excitement grew in 2006 when two pre-teens found a nine-spotted ladybug (Coccinella novemnotata) near their home in Virginia. This marked the first documented nine-spotted ladybug found in the eastern United States in 14 years.
The Cornell University site seeks ladybug photos--as of today, the count reached 10,661.
Last Saturday, May 19 the San Diego Botanical Garden got in the act by hosting a "Lost Ladybug Project" for Cornell.
They posted the event on their website only to receive this note: "Ladybug! Ladybug! Fly away home. Your house is on fire. And your children all gone. Because it is Judgment Day..."
Only thing being judged, however, was the number of ladybugs counted...that, no doubt, drew the rapt attention of all.
Those ladybugs are out there...
Ladybug looking for food on an artichoke. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybug munching aphids on the limb of a nectarine tree. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybug looking for aphids in all the right places. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What the world needs now is "love, sweet love" and...more ladybugs.
Ladybeetles are our friends. They gobble up aphids and other pests in our garden, and then look around for more. They have insatiable appetites.
Last Friday morning, as volunteers worked in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, the artichoke plants stirred.
Two ladybugs were in the midst of making more ladybugs.
Yes! We need more ladybugs.
During the grand opening celebration of the haven on Sept. 11, we spotted a web-weaving spider eating a ladybug.
One ladybug gone.
But many more to come.
Volunteers interesting in tending the plants--and maybe spotting a few ladybugs, as well as honey bees, butterflies, dragonflies, sweat bees, praying mantids and a variety of other insects in the garden--can show up at the haven on Fridays at 8:30 a.m.
Melissa "Missy" Borel, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis, and one of the key persons involved in the development of the garden, is coordinating the volunteers. She can be reached at email@example.com or (530) 752-6642.
And oh, if you like to capture images of plant and animal life inside the garden, don't forget your camera.
Beneath a Leaf