Jul 28 2013
Ever since I wrote about aphids a few weeks ago, I stop to look for their predators.
Last weekend I saw ladybugs in action. They’re such great predators of aphids that Asian lady beetles were imported in the 1970’s as a biological pest control.
I watched them make a dent in the aphid population on joe pyeweed. One lady beetle absolutely ran from stem to stem checking for aphids. She abandoned flower heads with too few aphids and even turned back when she found a stem completely coated in aphids (too many?). I saw her chase an aphid, then finally settle down to work on this flower head.
This must have been a good site. How many ladybugs can you count? (More than appear at first.)
Notice that these ladies are spotless. They’re the Asian species. Our native ladybugs always have spots and are in decline because the Asian lady beetles carry a fungal parasite that kills the natives.
The bad news is that Asian ladybugs are overtaking the natives. The good news is that we have ladybugs and they’re eating the pests.
Good job, ladies!
(photo by Kate St. John)