There are Different Types of Ladybugs?

Spotless Lady Beetle (Cycloneda sanguinea) is native to Florida and may have a spot or two

Spotless Lady Beetle (Cycloneda sanguinea) is native to Florida and may have a spot or two

The ladybird beetles a.k.a. ladybugs were out visiting this week.  It feels like spring here in Florida, so they are busy scouring the leaves and flowers of plants seeking nourishment.  Both adult and larva, side by side, munching away on aphids, scale or other pests.

Although relatively spotless, this one is Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis), native to Asia

Although relatively spotless, this one is Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis), native to Asia

I’ve several different species around the yard and this week I met up with some our native Spotless Lady Beetles (Cycloneda sanguinea) and some Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridis) who, as the name implies hail from Asia.  Don’t be fooled or identify the ladybugs based on common name.  Both species can be completely free of spots and the “spotless” one can have a few spots here or there.  You need to take a good look at the head and pronotum markings.

The exotics tend to congregate in places we don't want them to

The exotics tend to congregate in places we don’t want them to

My bladder broke recently.  Now, before you rush to send the get well cards and Depend® coupons, let me explain that it was the one in the well water storage tank.  I called the well guy and he replaced the tank in short order.  While there, we popped open the cover on the water softener system to check the numbers on the broken clock since he believes it may be under warranty.  “Wow, look at all the ladybugs”, he mentioned.  I nodded, took a look and replied that they were non-native variety.  The well guy agreed that you don’t see too many native species around any more.

This is a closeup of the exotic one inside the water system timer cover

This is a closeup of the exotic one inside the water system timer cover

Luckily, at my place I have a relatively secure population of our native ladybugs.

I also have a healthy population of the Asian variety which can be good or bad, depending on your conditions and outlook.

From March 2014, An Asian larva covered in pollen while working in the Meyer Lemon tree

From March 2014, An Asian larva covered in pollen while working in the Meyer Lemon tree

Their penchant for massive gathering can elevate them to pest status in some colder locales. They may over-winter and invade homes. Their defense mechanism is to ooze liquid when they perceive threats.  The liquid emits a foul odor and can permanently stain walls, drapes, carpeting, etc. Best not to swat or crush these lady beetles. Better yet, make sure to properly caulk areas that they could use for entry so they don’t get in living quarters the first place.

I have not encountered home invasion by the ladybugs since my move to Florida and their choice this week of hunkering down amid the water softener system doesn’t really concern me.  I just need to remember to pop the cover on a regular basis so they don’t gum up the works and short it out like some ants and treefrogs have done in the past.

I was happy to see some ladybug larvae on the plants and even happier by it’s markings.  It was very tiny and the shape lends more toward it being in the native genus than the exotic one.  The exotic beetles tend to be much larger although unless you see them side by side you might not notice it.

 

This larva looks like Cycloneda sp. to me

This week’s larva on Bidens alba looks like a native Cycloneda sp. to me

The Asian beetle larva has short yellow legs and a different shape

(from 2013) The Asian beetle larva has yellow legs and a different overall shape

Take a good look at the lady beetle larva.  Because of the odd look, some people think there are weird pests on their plants and unknowingly remove these beneficials. If they use a pesticide, well, then they have just done in the next generation of probably one of the better pest management control insects around.

 

Spotless Lady Beetle (Cycloneda sanguinea)

Spotless Lady Beetle (Cycloneda sanguinea) has white markings on black background on the head and pronotum

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis)

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) has black markings on a white background on the head and pronotum

There are many, MANY more species of ladybugs. Some may not be as friendly and compete with your local native varieties, so research which species belong in your area and try to encourage those native species when you can. The two species discussed here will help your beautiful wildlife garden by controlling aphids. Some species also control scale and other pests.  Avoid pesticide use to encourage the natural predators that will make for a healthy, happy garden.

Encourage the native varieties of ladybird beetles shown here on Dog Fennel

In Florida, encourage the native varieties of ladybird beetles Cycloneda sp.) shown here on Dog Fennel

© 2015, Loret T. Setters. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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Comments

    • says

      Thanks for the link Carole! Interesting read. I’m going to start paying closer attention and doing a little more research on effects of the exotics. I do worry about the food chain and that article highlights a lot of my concerns.
      Loret T. Setters recently posted..The tussock

  1. says

    Thanks for the education Loret! In our Maine house we had tons of lady beetles and on the first warm days of spring, they would cover the Southern wall. I’m guessing these were Asian based on your description but I never detected a foul order – of course, I would never crush a bug as harmless looking as a lady beetle, either. They never bothered us so we didn’t bother them. I remember vaguely reading about our native 9-spotted lady beetle making a comeback in NY not too long ago and I believe it was attributed to the ceasing of pesticides.

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