Monday, July 15, 2013

Lady Beetles. Not all are Welcome in the Garden

Asiatic Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis).
It poses a threat to native ones and it is a nuisance
when it gathers in large numbers
in winter in human habitations
 As I discussed in Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens on July 7th, not all ladybugs or lady beetles are beneficial. Some have been introduced from other lands and create trouble for the native species. Moreover, the sale of lady beetles as biological controls deserves thorough examination. You may be spending money for nothing or, worse yet, doing harm rather than good (Ladybugs,Lady Beetles or Ladybird Beetles. How Good are They?)

Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis). Stephen Ausmus. USDA
 Here are a couple of lady beetles which will surprise you. Not all lady beetles feed on other insects. A few feed on plants and may even be pests. The Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) is just as cute as some of the most beloved lady beetles. Sadly it feeds on beans, peas and other plants of the pea family. The only consolation is that it also likes to eat that dreadful Japanese invasive plant, Kudzu.

Alfalfa Lady Beetle (Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata)
Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez/ Wikicommons

I also want to mention another pretty one, the Alfalfa Lady Beetle (Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata). It was introduced from Asia and feeds on alfalfa and an assortment of plants, such as bouncing Bet and campion. 

Another introduced species
 Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata)

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