Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rise of Planet Lady Beetle

 Heard a tiny voice in the garden… “Come on guys! Let’s feast to the end!”

Some days ago our friends helped us release some common “bug busters.” These beneficial insects are types of ladybugs, but these buddies are convergent lady beetles also known as  Hippodamia convergens. And here’s some great news: they don’t bite!
The lady beetle’s main food source is the aphid. But when the aphid population goes down, so does the lady beetle’s. When there aren’t enough aphids, the lady beetles go from aphid eaters to cannibals.

When there are enough aphids the lady beetles hunt for them. They might even run into some unfriendly ants that like eating the aphid’s leftovers
The lady beetle blood is toxic to predators so they are at the top of the food chain (from an aphid’s point of view, of course!). Lady beetles are pretty gross when it comes to feeding. The lady beetle takes a bite of the aphid and sucks the juices out. Then they spit the fluid back in to the body, suck, and spit it out again and again. The adult lady beetle repeats this process about 60 times a day.

This sugary drink will attract lady beetles and convince them to hang around. 

Releasing the lady beetles was awesome. We set out a piece of wood and poured a sugary drink on it. Most of the lady beetles went to the wood for a sweet sensation. The lady beetles love sweets. So instead of eating nectar, they let the aphids do the work and then eat the bug that ate the nectar. That’s what I call a lazy bug!

The next morning we found some huddled together.

This one is sucking out the juices of an aphid.

The Singing Seed Jr blog team: Jay, Max, and Little Green Girl.


H2 said...

Nice goin', Singing Seed Jr blog team! You make science compelling. Do we know why the lady beetle spits the juice back into the aphid's body?

Debbie said...

Hi H2,

The lady beetle sucks/spits the juice to make sure all of the nutrients are consumed.

The Singing Seed Jr Blog team

city said...

thanks for sharing.