For weeks now, the insects currently clustering in homes here in the North East, are tiny Fall visitors called Asian lady beetles. These little uninvited guests, ranging in color from red to orange and yellow with black and white markings, are swarming to homes in preparation for the Winter conditions to come. Both our native red ladybugs and Asian lady beetles are in the insect family Coccinellidae, and although they can look alike, they have very distinct behaviors. The easiest way to tell them apart is to look for a distinctive white “M” on the beetles’ heads.
Posts Tagged ‘ladybugs’
The coldest morning so far (at 24 degrees) did in my dahlias, which had several blooms still trying to come out. I covered my toad lilies and saved them for a few more blooms, then cut them off and brought them inside where they are blooming in water on the windowsill. The warm spell over the weekend sure hatched out the ladybugs. There were hundreds trying to get in somewhere to spend the winter on the sunny side of the house and garage. They get under the edges of my windows, and I find them when I release one of my banded birds out the window.
What are round-ish, mostly orange and commonly found in October on front porches or near entryways? Obviously the answer is Harmonia axyridis, a.k.a. the multicolored Asian lady beetle or lady bug. This insect, although beneficial to gardens, is no treat when it gathers by the hundreds on your doors or exterior walls in autumn. And more than a few will find their way indoors.
Lady beetles may appear cute to the human eye, but in the insect world, they are fearsome predators. Considered by farmers to be a helpful pest control tool, lady beetles are welcome neighbors in Adirondack gardening communities. Nonetheless, there are controversial aspects surrounding these voracious insects. This article will describe the biology and taxonomy of the lady beetles, then discuss the multifaceted roles they play in both human and insect interactions.
Many New Yorkers are familiar with the red, round, and shiny lady beetles, but they may not be aware of the reason why they have their unusual name. In the 1690’s, this insect was named after the Virgin Mary, the “lady” that British farmers would pray to when their crops were afflicted by pests. The red coloration of the insect’s hardened outer wings, known as elytra, reminded them of the red cloak commonly worn by Mary in artwork of the time. In fact, all lady beetles are categorized in the family Coccinellidae, a term drawing its origins from the Latin coccinus, meaning “scarlet.” Many lady beetles are red; however, some are yellow, black, orange, pink, and/or white.
Among the many groups of insects that exist on our planet, the most abundant, diverse and ecologically successful are the beetles. And while many of these hard-shelled bugs are viewed as ugly and unwanted by humans, the ladybug beetle is considered to be one of the most attractive and environmentally friendly creatures in nature.
With a conspicuous dome-shaped, orange shell marked with black spots, the ladybug is difficult to mistake for any other invertebrate. Like all insects, there are numerous species of ladybugs that reside in our region, and the subtle differences in the color and pattern of its markings is the common means of distinguishing among the members of this insect group. » Continue Reading.
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