Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Pink Spotted Ladybug

A couple weeks ago I had a very special visitor to the Red House Garden.

Pink Spotted Ladybug
On one of my miniature daffodils was a Coleomegilla maculata, also known as the Pink Spotted Lady Beetle or the Twelve-spotted Lady Beetle.

Coleomegilla maculata
Many cultures believe that ladybugs are a sign of good luck and prosperity, and I believe it about this particular ladybug.  What's so special about it?  It's the first ladybug I've seen in my garden that is actually native to this area.


While native ladybugs used to be quite common, they are now being outcompeted by non-native ladybugs.  If I see a ladybug here, it is usually an Asian Ladybug, aka Harlequin Ladybird.  Larger than most of our native species, the Asian Ladybug is known for its huge appetite and was repeatedly introduced to the US for the control of aphids starting in the early 1900's.  An established population of these beetles were found in the wild near New Orleans in 1988, and since then they have spread swiftly.  Their appearance is very variable, but they often have what looks like an 'M' on the backs of their heads. 

Asian Ladybug
Asian Ladybugs outcompete native ones due to their voracious nature, their high resistance to disease, and the fact that they carry a microsporidian parasite that infects and kills other ladybugs but which they are immune to.  They are often considered pests due to their tendency to swarm to light-colored buildings (including my porch) in fall and and try to come indoors to hibernate for the winter.  They also give off a noxious odor and stain when frightened or crushed. 


Pink Spotted Ladybugs such as the one in my garden are native to Northeastern North America, the Midwest, and the Southwestern United States.  Its color can range from pink to orange or red.  They prey on aphids and other small insects, but the Pink Spotted Ladybug is unusual in that pollen may make up to 50% of its diet.  It is attracted to areas with dandelions and other pollen-rich weeds (maybe that's why it ended up in my yard?)


 Either way, I consider myself fortunate to have one of our native ladybugs in my garden, and I hope it will be so lucky as to lead to more!


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29 comments:

  1. Your ladybug is gorgeous! I'd no idea that there were non-native ladybugs and that they were edging out natives.

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    1. It's very unfortunate that non-native ladybugs have become more common than native ones. There's a European ladybug that has become very common as well.

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  2. What a wonderful sighting! Here's hoping that you find many more of these beauties.

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  3. I didn't know any of this. I thought all ladybugs looked like the Asian one. Your pink one really looks more like a beetle which you acknowledged. Thanks for the education.

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    1. There are other native ladybugs that look much more like a 'traditional' ladybug. This one is a little more unusual!

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  4. I was unaware of the voracious Asian beetles. I'll have to keep my eyes open to see what kind we have here.....

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    1. The Asian ones are pretty much all I see in my garden. There's many different native ones, though. There's also a non-native European ladybug that is very common in some areas now too.

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  5. Great post! The non-native beetles are definitely more dominant in my garden too. I too get excited when I see our native species. Thanks for sharing all this info, I didn't know they feed on pollen as well.

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    1. I thought that was very interesting! I had no idea either that there was a ladybug that ate pollen until I starting researching my garden visitor.

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  6. I knew about different kind of ladybugs but I didn't know your native ladybugs looked so different. They have heart shaped spots! I hope you get many more.

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    1. I thought that it was very cute that mine had heart-shaped spots. Feeling the love!

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  7. Great post, Indie!
    In me is the plague of ants and a lot of ladybirds.
    Greetings.

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    1. Ants can be quite the nuisance here too!

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  8. Interesting and informative. I didn't even know this bug existed - I'll have to keep my eyes open for it. There are certainly plenty of dandelions for it.

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    1. Yeah, I don't think I've seen it before, but it doesn't look like the 'common' type of ladybug, so I might not have even noticed it. It's a cute little one thought!

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    2. Indie, you won't believe this, but I just saw 2 in my garden! I would never have paid attention were it not for your post. It's just like when you learn a new word you start seeing it all the time...

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  9. Great article. I saw two of the native ones in one of my gardens last weekend. I was so excited. We are in Michigan. I remember growing up in Illinois and our property filled with dandelions and dotted with Native ladybugs so when I saw these two, all these memories came back. Another reason I do not like the non-natives is I have noticed that they bite. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Yeah, the Asian ladybugs can bite and will get in walls sometimes and die, even triggering allergies that way. Definitely not as nice as the native ones!

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  10. I don't see many Ladybugs in our garden. Sad to think of the North American Ladybugs as another endangered native.

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    1. I know, so sad. And it often seems like a never ending fight with all the invasive things in the environment, unfortunately.

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  11. Looks like a fierce version of our ladybirds. These red beetles which devour greenfly, as you say, are always welcome in the garden.

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    1. Definitely! I always appreciate some help taking out the garden pests!

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  12. Thanks for the information and the excellent photos. I was unaware of your native ladybug. It is sad that the non-native is detrimental to the native!

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    1. As much help as the non-natives provide us by eating garden pests, it is very sad that they are leading to the downfall of our native ladybugs.

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  13. Sweet! That is good luck! I knew that many of the lady beetles we see aren't native, but I often have a hard time telling the difference. This one is so unique. When I find lady beetles in the house, I put them on my lemon tree to consume aphids and other pest insects.

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    1. There are so many different kinds of ladybugs. I can usually tell if it's an Asian ladybug, because I've seen so many around here. There's a European ladybug that is also invasive that looks very similar to some of our natives.

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  14. I learned a lot from this posting, Indie. Well done! Now I'm on the lookout for a Coleomegilla maculata in my garden. Maybe, I will be 'lucky' and see one. P. x

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