Can the larvae of lady beetles (aka ladybugs) eat aphids?
Yes, they can. And yes, they do.
We spotted some lady beetle larvae on our yellow roses today and guess what they were doing? Right, eating aphids. Eating lots of aphids.
The larvae look a little like miniature alligators, which is probably why they're often mistaken for pests.
Oooh, what's that weird-looking thing on the roses? It can't be good. Kill it!
Sadly, that's what many people do.
Lady beetles (family Coccinellidae) are beneficial insects that gobble up aphids, mites, scales and other soft-bodied insects. Check out the Quick Tips on the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) website for more information and photos.
And, be sure to attend the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 22. It's "open house" throughout the campus. At Briggs Hall, the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and UC IPM will answer your questions about insects (as will scientists at the Bohart Museum of Entomology in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building). (See news story.)
Bugs. Briggs. Bohart. What could be better? Well, youngsters visiting the UC IPM booth at Briggs Hall are in for a special treat: they will be gifted with lady beetles to take home. Watch out, aphids!
There's gold on them thar roses.
No, not the kind of gold found during the California Gold Rush (1848–1855) that brought some 300,000 folks to the Golden State.
These are gold eggs from the multicolored Asian beetle, Harmonia axyridis, that we found on our Sparkle-and-Shine roses last week. The aphids are sparkling and the lady beetles are shining.
A native of eastern Asia, the multicolored Asian beetle was introduced in California by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1916, and in 1964 -1965 for the biological control of pecan aphids. Later, from 1978 through 1982, released beetles took hold in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
The multicolored Asian beetles are tiny, about 7 mm long and 5.5 mm wide. Spots? They range from as many as 19 spots to no spots at all. Color? From red to orange to yellow and (rarely) black. A key identifying characteristic is the black M-shaped mark behind its head.
The beetles, commonly known as ladybugs (but they're beetles, not bugs), are from the family Coccinellidae and they eat lots and lots of aphids and other soft-bodied insects, including scale insects and mites.
Aphids are not your friends. With their piercing mouthparts, they suck the juices right out of your plants, including your favorite roses. Lady beetles are your friends. They have voracious appetites and can gobble up 50 to 75 aphids a day.
Lush new growth often means a gathering of aphids, which means a gathering of lady beetles. Look closely and you might seen a cluster or row of about 20 oval eggs on the leaves.
That's the gold.
And so the cycle continues.
(Note: If you're looking for more roses, the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis, has just announced its 10th annual Rose Days will be Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Foundation Plant Services parking lot, 455 Hopkins Road, UC Davis campus.)
"Well, yes, I would like some aphids for dinner," said every lady beetle (aka ladybug) everywhere.
With the lush green growth of spring, come aphids (the prey) and lady beetles (the predators).
And now, if you look closely, you'll see clusters or rows of lady beetle eggs on your roses. Luck be a lady...
"The name 'ladybug' was coined by European farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary when pests began eating their crops," National Geographic says on its website. "After ladybugs came and wiped out the invading insects, the farmers named them 'beetle of Our Lady.' This eventually was shortened to 'lady beetle' and 'ladybug.'"
Globally, we have some 5000 species of lady beetles. Entomologists call them ladybird beetles. Yes, they're beetles, not bugs. The term, bugs, applies to insects in the order Hemiptera, while lady beetles belong to the order Coleoptera.
Lady beetles range in color from red to orange to yellow, with or without spots. See the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program website for photos and descriptions.
The red and orange are warning colors in nature. Hey, don't eat me. I don't taste good! You'll be sorry! In fact, their hemolymph is both toxic and foul-smelling. Predators steer clear of them.
Although lady beetles don't taste good to predators, aphids are a different matter. Aphids are apparently quite tasty. One hungry lady beetle can gobble up about 50 to 75 aphids a day or 5000 over a lifetime, scientists say. But who's counting? There's no "Weight Watchers" or "Waist Watchers" program in place.
Lady beetles also devour other soft-bodied insects, such as scale insects, white flies and mites.
Today (March 20) marked the first day of spring and the international Day of Happiness, one and the same. Rain pelted our roses, and doused the lady-beetles-that-were-eating-the-aphids, and the aphids-that-were-sucking-the-plant-juices and the roses that were just trying their darndest to grow.
Meanwhile, the goldlike eggs just glistened...with promises of a new generation of lady beetles...
This weekend will be somewhat like "The Days of Bees and Roses."
On Saturday and Sunday, May 2-3, the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCHU) and the Foundation Plant Services, two entities within the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, will sponsor their annual Rose Days at 655 Hopkins Road, Davis, west of the central UC Davis campus. The event, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is free and open to the public.
The May 2-3 event includes tours, information booths and a rose sale. Saturday's speakers are three of the most talented Rosarians in the Sacramento area, according to CCHU program manager Anne Schellman. Linda Knowles and Charlotte Owendyk are Consulting Rosarians and will present Easy Care Roses in the Landscape at 10 a.m. Baldo Villegas, a Master Consulting Rosarian, will present Baldo's Rose-Growing Secrets at 11 a.m. Their talks will be in the Trinchero Building, a newly built facility located next to the Foundation Plant Services.
Bus tours held from 12:30-3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday will showcase the Foundation Plant Services' eight acres of roses. In addition, UC Master Gardeners and rosarians will be present both days to answer questions.
Many of the roses offered for sale will beckon you with their enticing names. You'll see the Carefree Spirit (red), New Dawn (pink) and Limoncello (yellow), among others.
And you may just find a honey bee on a rose, although honey bees generally don't forage on today's modern commercial roses. When it comes to roses, bees are more likely to head for the heirlooms, especially those that have single blossoms. They seem especially attracted to the California wild rose, Rosa californica.
But for sure, you'll find bees at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee garden located on Bee Biology Road next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. You'll not only see bees and other pollinators in the haven, but a bee observation hive from the Laidlaw facility on Saturday, May 2, which is the fifth anniversary of the haven. The bee garden is open daily from dawn to dusk but this is a special celebration that will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will begin with several speakers at a short ceremony from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, which operates the haven, will welcome the crowd at 10 and talk about the history.
Raj Brahmbhatt, associate brand manager of Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream at Nestle USA, Dreyer's Ice Cream company, will speak at 10:50 a.m. on “What the Haven Means to Us.” Christine Casey, manager of the haven, will discuss “What Your Donations Mean to the Haven” at 11:15.
Also during the fifth anniversary celebration at the haven, folks can learn about honey bees and native bees, take a guided tour of the garden, and buy bee condos (bee houses made for leafcutter bees and mason bees). See more about the history of the garden and the fifth anniversary celebration here. It's free and open to the public.
Then the following Saturday, May 9, will be the UC Davis Bee Symposium on "Keeping Bees Healthy," from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the UC Davis Conference Center. The event, presented by the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and the Department of Entomology and Nematology, will feature keynote speaker Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight Professor, University of Minnesota and a 2010 MacArthur Fellow. Spivak will speak on "Helping Bees Stand on Their Own Six Feet." One of the UC Davis speakers will be pollination ecologist Neal Williams, associate professor of entomology at UC Davis, who will discuss "Enhancing Forage for Bees." See more information here.
Everything's coming up roses--and bees! It doesn't get much better than that!
So began Joe South in his hit song, "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," popularized by country singer Lynn Anderson in 1970.
That was Joe South's rose garden. What UC Davis has is an eight-acre field of roses, and you're invited to celebrate "Roses: the "Eyeconic Weekend" on Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5. It's a free event, with free training/informational sessions. The best part, however, is you can tour the rose field and select and buy a wide variety of container roses for your own garden.
The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH), part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, sponsors this annual fundraiser.
The rose sale takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5 at Foundation Plant Services, 455 Hopkins Road, west of the central campus.
Rose field tours will be given from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on both days. Free mini floribunda roses will be handed out to the first 250 attendees, says CCUH executive director Dave Fujino.
Fujino invites the public to attend the free informational sessions, offered both days at the same site. No registration is required.
The agenda for Saturday, May 4 for the free informational sessions:
- 11 a.m. to noon: New rose varieties
- 1 to 2 p.m., Roses 101 (placement, planting and feeding)
- 2 to 4 p.m., Pruning
- 3 to 4 p.m.: Pest management
The agenda for Sunday, May 5 for the free informational sessions:
- 11 a.m. to noon: New rose varieties
- 1 to 2 p.m.: Roses 101 (placement, planting and feeding)
- 2 to 4 p.m.: Pruning
- 3 to 4 p.m.: Disease Identification (Bring your diseased specimens in a sealed baggie)
These "Rose Days" are what folks look forward to every year. Want to check out the beauty and fragrance? Want to learn how to prune roses? Want to ask a question about a pest or a beneficial insect? This is the place.
A rose catalog is online to aid you in your choices. There you'll see photos of such roses as Yabba Dabba Doo, Big Momma, Tiddly Winks, Wild Blue Yonder, McCartney Rose, Passionate Kisses, and Oh My!
Also available for sale ($10) will be the UC ANR book on "Healthy Roses."
No, this isn't Joe South's rose garden. This is the UC Davis eight-acre field of roses.