When is a lady-bird not welcome?
Don’t we all love ladybirds? They are essentially harmless, and farmers and gardners welcome them, as most ladybird beetles are predators on pests, like small sap sucking soft body insects, like aphids. Does this cute little creature have a dark side?
But there is a villain in this story, Henosepilachna vigintioctomaculata, commonly known as the 28-spotted potato ladybird, or the Hadda beetle. This is a species of beetle in the family Coccinellidae, and both the larvae and adults feed on plants. So cute, but not wanted in gardens.
Usually he larvae feeds on the lower surface of the plants, whilst the adults feed on the upper surface of leaves, but can feed on both sides of the leaf, often making holes as they chew. Attacks cause death of seedlings. They are particularly fond of plants in the Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae families, including zucchini, pumpkin, cucumbers, melons, potato, and tomato.
The adults are like typical ladybird beetles with wing cases of dull orange and black spots; however, close inspection shows that the upper surface is covered in short downy hairs. This distinguishes plant-feeding ladybird beetles from their beneficial bug-feeding relatives.
Spot them: They are orange in colour, with13 black spots on each wing cover, and two spots on thorax, for a total of 28-spots in total. And don’t forget the dense short hairs on its body. The larvae are creamy white in colour with black spiny hairs.