Posts Tagged ‘Harmonia axyridis’

There always seems to be something fun and whimsical about ladybugs, like this one that I spotted last Saturday at Occoquan Regional Park. This is probably an invasive Harlequin Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis), rather than a native ladybug, but I still find it to be beautiful.

The Harlequin Lady Beetles, also known as Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles, may assist with control of some aphid pests, but may also harm native and beneficial insects and are considered by many to be pests.

My interests tend to be primarily photographic, so I tend not to make distinctions between weeds and flowers or between native and invasive species in the way that others, such as gardeners and farmers, may need to do. I am trying to capture my subjects as well as I can and I am pretty happy with the way this particular image turned out, given the small size of the ladybug and the fact that it was moving about as I was trying to get a shot.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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Yesterday my friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer and I were photographing flowers in different parts of her garden when she excitedly called out to me that she had spotted a ladybug inside one of the irises. I rushed over and spotted a tiny Multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) feverishly crawling around inside of a beautiful yellow bearded iris.

I had a mental picture of composing an image in which the viewer would looking from the outside into the interior of the flower.  That meant that I could not get too close to the ladybug. It also meant that the ladybug had to cooperate by crawling into the right part of the frame. I watched and waited and eventually was able to capture the kind of artsy image that I had imagined.

ladybug in iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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I love ladybugs and was thrilled to spot this one on Monday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. When I posted this photo on Facebook, one viewer noted that this is a Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis), a non-native species that has become the most common species in the United States since it was deliberately introduced into the country in 1916 in an attempt to control the spread of aphids.

How can you tell a native ladybug from the Asian ladybug? Several sources on-line note that the Asian ladybug has a white marking behind its head in the openings of what looks like a black M, as you can see on the ladybug in my photo. If you are interested in learning more about the differences, check out this fascinating article at thespruce.com, The Differences Between Ladybugs and Asian Lady Beetles.

Whether native or not, this ladybug in my eyes is beautiful. If you want to see something really cool, click on the photo and check out the details on the ladybug’s front foot. I never knew that ladybugs have two tiny toes.



© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We’ll have more ladybugs in our neighborhood even sooner than I expected.

My neighbor and photography mentor, Cindy Dyer, has ladybug larvae in her garden as I showed in a recent posting. Some of them have already entered the pupa stage, the final stage before adulthood. Once metamorphosis is complete, the shell splits open and a full-grown ladybug emerges. Initially, the shell is soft, but pretty rapidly the exoskeleton hardens and takes on the look that we associate with ladybugs.

Here’s a photo from today of a ladybug pupa. I think that it is probably from a Harlequin Ladybug (Harmonia axyridis), a type that is also known as the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle. If you want to know more about the life cycle of a ladybug, check out the posting that I did last fall entitled Baby Ladybugs.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Last weekend, I took some shots of Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles (Harmonia axyridia) in the larval and pupal stage and discussed the phases of ladybug development in a post called Baby Ladybugs. Yesterday, I returned  to see if I could find any fully developed ladybugs that had been in pupae the last time I encountered them. (Yes, I realize I would not be able to recognize them individually, but it’s nice to imagine that we’re gradually getting to know each other.)

So, what happened? I left the shoot thinking that I had not seen any adult ladybugs, but when I looked at some of the photos on my computer of different pupae, I was uncertain. Right outside of an empty pupa shell in one of the photos is something that looks like an adult ladybug, if I squint my eyes, tilt my head, and use a little imagination. What do you think?

Newly emerged ladybug?

If you haven’t been following this story, let me catch you up with a couple of photos. (I feel like I’m doing an intro for a new television series, Lifestyles of the Ladybug.Ladybugs start out as eggs and them become larvae. As they grow, they molt several times and each time they develop a new exoskeleton. Yesterday, I saw quite a few discarded skins that, at first glance, looked a lot like the larvae themselves. Here is what a ladybug larva looks like in a later phase of development. (I took some new shots of the larvae and pupae yesterday.) They are not as cute in this stage as they will become as adult ladybugs.

Ladybug larva

Once they are fully grown, the larvae enter into a pupal stage, somewhat akin to the cocoons into which caterpillars develop into butterflies. The pupae look a little bit like ladybugs themselves and are attached to leaves. While they are in this phase, the metamorphosis takes place in which they turn into ladybugs. Here is my favorite shots of a ladybug pupa.

Ladybug pupa

After about five days, a ladybug emerges from the pupa. According to ladybug-life-cycle.com, “When the metamorphosis is complete, the skin of the larvae will split open and the full grown ladybug will emerge, but it still won’t look like the ladybug that you know so well. It will look soft and pink or very pale for a couple of hours until its shell becomes hard.”

Was I really lucky enough to catch the ladybug just after it had emerged from the pupa? My response is a firm, “Maybe,” but others with more experience may be able to respond more definitively. Here is one last photo of the possible new ladybug, from a slightly different angle than the first photo, to help your deliberations.

Welcome to this world

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I know that ladybugs don’t really have babies, but, seriously, how many people will read a posting with words like “larva” and “pupa” in the title? A more accurate title would be something like “Larva and Pupa of the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis).”

This past weekend I was wandering through a local garden when I spotted a strange-looking little yellow and black insect. Upon closer investigation, I discovered several more of them on the plant, along with some orange and black objects that I thought might be insects too, but they were not moving. This was a good excuse to take out my macro lens and to follow the old adage about shooting first and asking questions later.

After a bit of research, I realized that I had captured two different phases in the life cycles of a ladybug. Lady-bugs.org and ladybug-life-cycle.com offer additional details on the stages of development of a ladybug, but allow me to summarize for folks like me who don’t follow insects for a living. The ladybug’s life cycle is about four to six weeks long, with four stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult). During the larval stage, the ladybug larvae shed their exoskeletons three times before the pupation stage begins. It is during the pupa stage that the metamorphosis takes place that is almost as magical as it is for butterflies and the insect that I photographed turns into a full grown ladybug.

Thanks to bugguide, I was able to identify my bug as the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis). The article notes that the larvae look like tiny alligators and grow to be larger in size than the eventual ladybug. It describes the pupa as “an elongated dome shape, usually found attached to a leaf, with the spiky remains of the last larval skin usually clinging to one end. The branched spines of this skin are usually visible.”

It was fascinating to discover the details of what I had photographed—metamorphosis never ceases to amaze me. Here are a couple of my favorite shots of the ladybug larvae and several of different pupa. Be sure to click on them to see more details.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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