Posts Tagged: ladybugs
The first day of spring--Tuesday, March 20--yielded a diversity of insects in the fava beans planted in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden adjacent to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California,Davis.
A flurry of insects joined the honey bees: ladybugs, a blow fly, a stink bug, an alfalfa butterfly, European paper wasp and scores of aphids.
Fava beans (Vicia faba), one of the world's oldest cultivated crops and native to the Mediterranean region, are also known as broad beans, horse beans, pigeon beans, and the like.
"In North America, Canada is perhaps the largest producer of fava beans since they produce best in cool summer areas," write San Joaquin County Farm Advisors Gary Hickman and Mick Canevari in a Family Farm Series publication of the UC Davis Small Farm Center. "Minnesota and the lake states produce small acreages. In California, fava beans are grown as seed crops along the coast from Lompoc to Salinas and in the Northern Sacramento Valley, but in other areas of the state they are grown mostly as a cover crop or for green manure."
You can learn more about fava beans in the UC Davis Small Farm Center publication. Meanwhile, the insects hanging out in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven are definitely favoring the fava beans.
Count the insects! Ladybugs, a European paper wasp, blow fly and aphids are all over the fava beans in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
European paper wasp and a pair of ladybugs in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Stink bug occupies a fava bean leaf. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee foraging on the fava beans. Note the gray load of pollen.(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)
It was lovely day today, in more ways than one.
During the lunch hour, we stopped by the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, and discovered more than just blossoms in the planter box filled with fava beans.
Ladybugs, aka lady beetles! Coccinellids!
We spotted five of them, and two were...ahem...in the process of providing the garden with more ladybugs. That's quite nice of them. We need more ladybugs to eat those pesky aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
Meanwhile, as the sun warmed the garden (60 degrees!), honey bees foraged among the blossoms and assorted ants and aphids crawled up and down the leaves.
The half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, is living up to its name as a place for pollinators.
Ladybugs in the fava beans at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Soon the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven will have a new generation of ladybugs. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybugs doing what comes naturally. Fava bean blossoms are at the right. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A sole ladybug, aka lady beetle, crawls past a pair of the beetles. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Photographers never tire of capturing images of ladybugs, aka lady beetles.
First of all, they're beneficial insects. You know when you photograph them that they're about to scoot, crawl or fly off to grab a tasty lunch--an all-you-can-eat aphid buffet.
Second, they're colorful. They brighten a garden, standing out like red Corvettes on a freeway.
Third, they're among the most recognizable of insects. Halloween costume companies relish in creating polka-dotted attire for the 5-and-under set. Nobody will ask "What are you supposed to be?"
Fourth, they're quite common. California alone has some 125 species of Coccinellids.
Worldwide, there are some 5000 described species.
Not too many people know, however, that many species in the family Coccinellidae secrete a nasty fluid. As UC Berkeley retired entomologist Jerry Powell writes in his book, California Insects, "...when disturbed, many species secrete a bitter, amber-colored fluid that is believed to have poisonous effects on vertebrates..."
Indeed, their red and black coloring warns "Leave me alone!"
Ladybug, aka lady beetle, searching for aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The ladybug's coloring warns "Leave me alone!" (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A ladybug on the prowl. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you don't know what it is, don't kill it.
That insect in your garden could very well be a beneficial insect.
If you operate on the "shoot-first-ask-questions later" or "the only good bug is a dead bug," no telling how many insects--and generations--you'll be destroying.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, tells this story that's worth remembering.
"Last week I was walking across Capitol Park in Sacramento when I observed a smartly dressed young woman in her 20s stomp a praying mantis and grind it into the sidewalk. She exclaimed to her phenotypically similar friend: 'Did you ever see such an ugly, icky bug?'"
And, many years ago, Shapiro encountered a man in College Park, Davis, in the act of stomping a Tiger Swallowtail.
Shapiro asked him why he was doing this.
The man replied: "This is the bug that has the big green caterpillar that eats my tomato plants!"
When Shapiro told him it wasn't, the man told him to check his information, and that "I'm right and you're wrong."
There is indeed a lot of misinformation and misidentification out there.
Tabatha Yang of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis relates the story about an avid gardener who absolutely loved ladybugs (aka lady beetles) because of their voracious appetites for aphids. But when our avid gardener came across "some weird black and orange bugs," she promptly killed them.
Little did she know that she was killing immature ladybugs.
Then there's the story about a UC Master Gardener who encountered a "green-eyed golden bumblebee-like" insect that frightened her because it buzzed so loudly around her flower beds. So, she killed it. Turns out it was a pollinator, a male Valley carpenter bee, also known as a "teddy bear."
And, can you imagine what goes through people's minds when they meet up with a Jerusalem cricket in the mud after a rain? Whoa! Bug-o-mania!
Here's where the Bohart Museum, 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, UC Davis campus, can help. If you live in California and see an insect and wonder if it's beneficial insect or a pest--or just want to know what it is--take a photo of it and email it to the Bohart. Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum (home of more than seven million specimens) and professor of entomology at UC Davis, identifies insects in between research, teaching, administering the Bohart Museum, and other duties. Her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maybe, just maybe, this will save a few praying mantids, ladybugs, Valley carpenter bees and Jerusalem crickets./span>
Praying mantis with remnants of a meal. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is an immature ladybug (aka lady beetle). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This male Valley carpenter bee is a pollinator, not a pest. The female Valley carpenter bee is solid black. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Jerusalem cricket is often mistaken for a pest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)