Posts Tagged 'ladybugs'

Bugs and Blooms, Finally!



bug3Aphids feasting on plant juices, a 14-spotted lady beetle (Propylea quatuordecimpunctata) and syrphid fly larva (h/t for the ID on this one, Lost Ladybug Project) feeding on aphids.

High Gloss Lady

My “Year of the Ladybug” continues. Or, should I say, Year of the Aphids? Since it is the aphids, those little buggers, who have ushered in the ladies. This glossy creature is the Polished Lady Beetle, Cycloneda munda, a species new to me.Also known commonly as the Red Lady Beetle and the Immaculate — that is, spotless — Ladybug. There are three species of Cycloneda in North America, with C. munda being the one found here in the North East.
One of the larva stage C. mundas, no orisons here, with a crunchy aphid at the business end. Photographed yesterday, in a drizzly, foggy, damp, humid, clammy Brooklyn Bridge Park, where the polish on the adult beetle shone out like a lighthouse.

Life Cycles in Brooklyn Bridge Park

The rare Two-spotted lady beetles (Adalia bipunctata) I discovered in July are still active in Brooklyn Bridge Park. In fact:“Houston, we have coition.” Luckily, I didn’t learn about reproduction from Republicans, so I know that this kind of activity leads to:Lady beetle eggs. I assume Two-spotted, but don’t know for sure.A recently emerged adult, whose markings and coloring will soon develop.

And continuing on the theme of life cycles:Fall Webworms (Hyphantria cunea) have broken out, formed silken webs, and are skeletonizing their hosts inside the webs.This defoliator is sometimes confused with Gypsy Moths and Eastern Tent caterpillars, who also make communal silk nests in trees. The Fall Webworm can make a tree look fairly ghastly but isn’t very dangerous because it strikes in the fall, when the trees are at the end of their leaf cycle. Brooklyn Bridge Park tends to leave “pests” like this alone because they will attract other species, including predators. Indeed, the aphid infestation on the catalpas probably lured in the Two-spotted lady beetles. H. cunea, meanwhile, has been called a “parasitoid hotel” because it is parasitized by more than fifty species of wasps and flies.

When I poked my camera lens in for the close-ups, the caterpillars outside the nest started wagging in unison, a characteristic of the species. It’s the dance sensation sweeping the nation: the “Funky Caterpillar.”


Brooklyn Bridge Park’s horticulturalist Rebecca McMackin told me recently that she consciously works to create habitat. The proof is in the animals: Spot-winged glider (Pantala hymenaea), a new species for me.
A reader of this blog, in private conversation, noted how the carrion beetle thing yesterday was a little queasy, but I personally find these lady bug larva the most daunting of insect forms. Fast, furious devourers; clearly the model for the thing they put in Pavel Chekov’s ear. Digger wasp (Scolia dubia), another of the blue/black-winged wasps. (I was looking at some crows up close recently and they have a similar blue-purple iridescence.) Very distinctive yellow spots and red hairs on abdomen. About an inch long. Deserves another view:Bumblebee, butt-up in bindweed. (Bindweed is generally freelance habitat, and this was winding up some fencing unbidden by the hard-working staff.)

BBP is now just over two years old. All my BBP posts are here in chronological order.

Two-Spotted in Brooklyn

One more species of lady beetle spotted in Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the catalpa trees, whose big leaves are sticky with aphid honeydew. This is the Two-Spotted lady beetle (Adalia bipunctata). There were several of them, so there must have been a recent pupation. This species is native to North American and Europe, making it the first native species of lady beetle I’ve seen here in Brooklyn.Note that the pronotum has a similar M/W mark as the Multi-colored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) (see some examples here), but these bipunctata are not as large or round as that more common and invasive species.

The beetle below was in the same tree. It turns out to be A. bipunctata as well, only in a dark variation, as this beetle is subject to melanic polymorphism. Lady beetles are sometimes tricky.The Two-Spotted lady beetle seems to be in decline in North America, its range narrowing. According to the Lost Ladybug Project at Cornell, to whom I submitted these pictures, “Adalia bipunctata in Brooklyn is very exciting!” This is the third report of the species in NY state and the first for the black variation. Woo-woo!

UPDATE: Returned this morning and got a better shot of the dark morph:Probably a different individual. Hard as the dickens to shoot these glossy critters! Saw another of the dark forms at a separate catalpa tree, two piers away.

And this, another of the typical Two-Spotted, surrounded by the spent casings, or exuviae of the pupas — although those could be from other lady beetle species, since there are at least three species on these trees now:

Ladybugs: Aphid-Eaters

Checker Spot ladybug (Propylea quatuordecimpunctata) munching on an aphid wing. Laval-stage lady beetles are also great aphid-devourers. This is why a number of different species of lady bugs have been introduced into North America over the years: to attack the real destruction aphids can cause. The Checker Spots were one such introduction.The Multi-colored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) were another. Above and below are two examples of this species. These, and numerous other examples of the species, which is quite varied in color and spot number, were found, in both adult and pupal stages, almost exclusively on widely separated Catalpa trees in the park.
Variegated lady beetle (Hippodamia variegata), another introduced species, pictured above and below.Same species, different individual:Three species of lady beetles noted in Brooklyn Bridge Park on the same day, all originally introduced species. In fact, I’m hard pressed to find any native species of lady bugs locally, and I’m not the only one. For instance, New York State’s state insect, the 9-Spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella novemnotata), is extremely rare now — it was thought absent from the state until one was found last year on Long Island. Check out the Lost Lady Bug Project for more details.

What is the connection between the introduction and spreading of non-native to dwindling numbers of native species? Unknown. Habitat destruction — native insects have spent millions of years developing relationships with native plants — and poisons may be the reason, or some combination of all these things.

7 Spotted, 13 Spotted

Pupating larva, I assume of the Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata), adults of which who were all around Four Sparrow Marsh: A species introduced from Europe to eat aphids.

Another commercially available aphid eater is the Convergent Lady Beetle (Hippodamia convergens), which is exported out of California:Like the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, this is also a variable looking species, but it usually has 13 spots and is not nearly as round as the MALB. Found this one on the sidewalk in the Gowanus. Commercially available lady bugs tend to fly out of your garden when released ’cause they ain’t working on Maggie’s farm no more….

Lady Bug

My first lady bug of the year. The Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) is also multi-spotted, or sometimes not spotted at all. It’s highly variable, with more than 100 (!) colorforms. The M-shape on the pronotum is usually a good marker of the species. Of course, that’s a W-shape if you look at it the other way. (That seems to make it the only beetle with my initials on it.) The species was introduced into the Southeast around thirty years ago; since then it has spread throughout much of North America.


NSFW? Variegated ladybugs, Hippodamia variegata, making more beetles. Photo taken on Bond Street by the Gowanus Canal. Quite a bit of action, so to speak, on these leaves. Note the eggs below, the aphid (?) on the left, and the remains of something by the female beetle’s front right.

Four Sparrow Marsh

Four Sparrow Marsh this early summer day, at low tide. While most everybody else in town was celebrating Gay Pride and the state’s passage of marriage equality (late Friday night, and about time, too), a few of us were being tormented by “mischievous and annoying insects.” I shouldn’t have loaned my head-covering mesh to friends visiting Alaska this weekend. An absolute gauntlet of the little bloodsuckers had to be run through to get to the marsh this morning. Through sedges, grasses, creepers, chest-high mugworts and higher phragmites, and much else ~ this was, after all, a New York City Wildflower Week [extended] walk, and I’m happy to report that there was a thriving mix of species of plants, shrubs, and trees. (See comments for Elizabeth’s list of things seen. See Marielle’s photos here.)

The marsh itself was mosquito-free. And tranquil-looking… but don’t let looks deceive you. Salt-marshes are one of the most productive of ecosystems, nursing fish and many invertebrates, filtering water and absorbing storm surges, pumping blessed oxygen into the air, providing food for everything from bacteria to mammals.

Green with two species of spartina, ringed by phragmites, studded with the keystone ribbed mussels, soft and hard shell clams, mud snails, fiddler crabs, and plentiful little fish in the rising tide. Is this Brooklyn? Yes, it is. A Forever Wild remnant of the salt-marshes that once ringed Jamaica Bay and much of the city. (JFK, LGA, EWR and TEB were all built on salt marshes). But “Forever Wild,” a Parks Department designation without much legal pull, doesn’t mean all that much unless we fight for it.One of a quartet of eastern willets (Tringa semipalmata), this one loudly picketing our presence, perhaps because we were close to a nest (they are salt-marsh breeders), or maybe just on principal. After all, they don’t see too many humans there. On the adjacent upland area, which some people want to turn into yet another parking lot (may they be staked down for the mosquitos), we saw, in addition to the usual suspects, an unexpected male indigo bunting (Passerina cyanea). That was worth pausing for amidst the daredevil skeeters.
There are seven mosquito bites on my forehead. Which makes me seven-spotted, like this ladybug, Coccinella septempunctata.

All my Four Sparrow Marsh posts can be read here.


Bookmark and Share

Join 240 other followers


Nature Blog Network



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 240 other followers