- Author: Ben Faber
Plants have been acting differently this spring. Along the coast the peaches have barely bloomed and it's May. Avocado Brown Mite has had a field day. Stethorus beetles have been in low numbers and biocontrol is out of whack.
Her ladybug Coccinelid sisters have been in low numbers, as well. There's lots of ladybug species in the coastal area. Usually the first ladybugs show up on the aphids feeding on the malva (cheeseweed) new growth. I haven't seen many aphids on the malva, but for the last several weeks the new growth on citrus has been hammered by green peach aphid (http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r604300111.html). They have also been feeding on new growth blueberry.
This aphid doesn't normally get out of hand like this. Possibly the fires have burned up the hills where they were hibernating this winter? Aphids are not normally a problem in either mature citrus or blueberry. It can run it's course, and something will come in to eat them, but it's interesting how a year can be so different from others.
More winter stories
- 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)