Monday, March 15, 2010

Seven-spotted Lady Beetle

Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata) on Flat-Leaf Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

This seven-spotted lady beetle (ladybug or ladybird beetle) has been spotted in my yard.  Fortunately, this lady is a gardener's friends. Scientifically it is called the Coccinella septempunctata.   Being a predatory insect, the C. septempunctata plays an important role in the biological control of aphids.  Both the adult and the larvae feed voraciously on aphids.  Adults hibernate or overwinter in protected areas.  In the spring when temperatures get warmer, they come out and feed on aphids before they lay eggs.  The females can lay up to 1000 eggs within a three month beginning in spring.  The females are very strategic in their choice of a place to lay their eggs.  They prefer areas with a high insect population such as in gardens, fields and tree canopies. 

The C. septempunctata is commonly identified by the seven black spots on the bright red elitra (singular elytron: are the tough fore wings of beetles and earwigs).  It undergoes a complete metamorphosis.  This means that it has to undergo four stages of change to complete its life cycle:  Egg; Larvae; Pupa; Adult. 

Although most ladybugs are beneficial to plants, some of them are considered pests.  In a future post I will name those bugs and describe why they are not so "lady-like."

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