- Author: Ben Faber
It's that time of year for a riot of aphids on new growth cheeseweed (malva) and wild radish and with that food source to see ladybird beetles go to town, chowing down. There's ladybugs in both their larval and adult stages doing the feeding. Some of the larvae look like mealybugs which is a food source that they mimic and also feed on. The mealybug destroyers was introduced from Australia at the turn of the 20th century to fight citrus mealybug and when there is no disruption, they are effective at keeping the population down. Another mealybug mimic is the dusky ladybird which also feeds on scales, aphids and mealy bugs. These are generalist predators, even cannibalizing their own, when other food sources are not present. The dusky has not been common in the Ventura area, but recently, PCA Jane Delahoyde spotted one. As our weather changes, we are bound to see other insects and invertebrates move into the area.
Check out this University of Florida ladybug website:
Mealybug-like larval stage surrounded by aphid food (above) and adult (below)