Posts Tagged: ladybugs
What's that wet stuff falling from California skies?
Could it be the "R" word, rain?
Or what Wikipedia calls "liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitated—that is, become heavy enough to fall under gravity?"
A winter storm is pummelling California, soaking the parched earth. Talk about drenching the three-year historic drought. We're getting reacquainted with umbrellas, raincoats and rain boots. And leaky roofs, heavy sandbags, massive flooding, and power outages.
Of course, the drought is far from over.
Reporter Paul Rogers, in a piece in today's San Jose Mercury News headlined “California Drought: Winter Storms Finally Starting to Boost Storage Levels in Key Reservoirs," quoted Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences as saying: ""It's the middle of December, and we've had two good storm systems. This could be the end of the drought; we won't know until late March. But it is certainly an easing of the drought."
On the UC Davis campus, everyone received an Aggie Alert on Wednesday morning, Dec. 10: "A severe winter storm with high winds and heavy rain is forecast for northern California beginning about 10 p.m. this evening, Wednesday, Dec. 10 and continuing through Thursday. At this time, there are no plans to cancel classes or suspend campus operations, but plan for travel delays and use caution when moving around campus. For once, cycling is not recommended."
When cycling is not recommended on the UC Davis campus, that means this is serious rain.
Let's hope we get more of this serious rain. It's been a long time since we've seen rain drops on ladybugs.
Rain drops falling on a lady beetle, aka ladybug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A lady beetle, aka ladybug, sharing stories with Gulf Fritillary caterpillars?
Well, not likely.
The lady beetle (family Coccinellidae) preys mainly on aphids--it can eat about 50 aphids a day or some 5000 aphids in its lifetime. But it will devour other soft-bodied insects, including mites, scales, mealybugs, leafhoppers, and butterfly eggs and larvae (caterpillars). Butterfly caterpillars move quite slowly; they are not Indy 500 speedsters.
We spotted a lady beetle early this morning on one of our passionflower (Passiflora) seed pods, surrounded by hungry Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) caterpillars. It was somewhat like a two-peas-in-a-pod scene, but without the peas. Here were two insect species ON a pod, and both sharing the same warning color: red.
The Gulf Fritillary caterpillars are hungry. Very hungry. They've stripped the passionflower vine of all its leaves and are now eating the stems and seed pods. Actually, we planted the passionflower vine for them. But are they THAT hungry? They are. They're famished. And there are literally hundreds of them.
Sometimes we think that all of the Gulf Frit butterflies west of Mississippi are gravitating toward the plant to lay their eggs. The vine cannot support that many hungry caterpillars, despite predation by scrub jays and European paper wasps.
The lady beetle, we assume is not only eating the tiny yellow eggs of the Gulf Frit, but the tiniest of the tiny larvae. It's an exquisite buffet of tasty treats with high nutritional value.
And easy pickings.
Lady beetle, aka ladybug, with its new "friends"--Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gulf Fritillary caterpillars move around the lady beetle, aka ladybug. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A touching moment. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gulf Fritillary caterpillars will grow up to look like this. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Happy Valentine's Day!
While everyone else hands out little pink candy conversation hearts proclaiming "Bee Mine," "Miss You," "Call Me," "Kiss Me," and "I Love You," insect enthusiasts post photos of bugs "keeping busy."
We spotted an unforgettable scene recently in a flower patch behind the UC Davis Lab Sciences Building. The ladybugs (actually they're "lady beetles" because they're not bugs) were devouring aphids on the brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), a desert shrub we see throughout California, northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States.
Quite contentedly, we might add. And doing a great job, we might also add.
But that's not all they were doing.
Brittlebush makes a good dining room, living room and bedroom.
Soon the flower patch will turn into a nursery.
Ladybugs (lady beetles) "keeping busy" on brittlebush. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Love is where you find it.
And sometimes you find it in a bean field.
Take the UC Dry Bean Field Day on Sept. 5 at UC Davis. As researchers, growers, UC Cooperative Extension personnel, industry representatives and other interested personnel fanned out in the bean fields west of the central campus, they may not have noticed the red among the green.
Two lady beetles, aka ladybugs, were doing what comes naturally.
We need more beneficial insects!
Love in the bean field at the UC Dry Bean Field Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Consider the lady beetle, aka ladybug.
It's not a bug, but a beetle. It belong to the family Coccinellidae, and scientists have described about 5000 species worldwide, and about 450 in North America.
Some quick facts...
Ladybugs are not always red with black spots. The colors can be red, yellow, orange, gray, black, brown and pink. And, not all ladybugs have spots. Some have stripes and some have neither spots nor stripes.
Coccinellid are omnivores, dining on soft-bodied insects such as aphids, as well as plants. Aphids? A single ladybug can eat some 5000 aphids during its short life span of three to six weeks.
Ladybugs are considered good luck. If a ladybug lands on you, Lady Luck is supposed to smile on you.
This ladybug (below) landed on me on the grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
I'm still waiting for Lady Luck.
When a ladybug lands on you, it's considered good luck. A gentle push and this one took flight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)