Sunday, November 8, 2009

Convergent Lady Beetle

This tiny little lady beetle is called the Convergent Lady Beetle (Hippodamia convergens). They are native to the United States and are found throughout North America as well as parts of South America.  These beetles reach lengths up to 3/8 of an inch. Their bodies are somewhat elongated and reddish-orange.Typically they will have six black spots on each wing and a 13th spot at the top of the wings near the back of the head. Some specimens are immaculate (spottless), like the one pictured here. These are one of the most commonly purchased species from consumer supply houses by farmers and gardeners. They are used as a biological control against aphids and other harmful insects. In gardens, agricultural areas, meadows, and open fields are home to this ladybug. They will mate in the spring, and shortly thereafter the female will begin laying eggs.

She is capable of laying up to 50 eggs per day. After hatching, the tiny alligator shaped larvae will feed on nearby aphids populations. In about 28 days they will have completed their life cycles. They are capable of producing up to 5 generations per year. In the fall these beetles congregate near homes, and other hidden crevices to wait out the cold winter. They will become active in the spring when warm weather returns.