Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Quick Tips

Lady Beetles

Published   3/14

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Lady beetles, or “ladybugs,” are round- or half-dome-shaped insects with hard wing covers. About 200 species occur in California and most are predators both as adults and larvae. Some species specialize on aphids or other groups; others have a broader diet.

Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens Other Lady Beetles
Convergent lady beetle eggs.   Larva of convergent lady beetle. Western spotted cucumber beetle. Adult ashy gray lady beetle, Olla v-nigrum.
Lady beetle eggs (left) are oblong or spindle-shaped and often yellowish. Larvae (right) are active, have 6 long legs, and resemble tiny alligators. Some species have spines. This is NOT a lady beetle! The long antennae of the spotted cucumber beetle distinguish this plant-feeding pest. Lady beetles have short, clubbed antennae. The ashy gray lady beetle has black spots on its light gray or yellowish wings. A black form with two red spots also occurs. It feeds on aphids and psyllids.
Pupa of convergent lady beetle.   Adult convergent lady beetle, Hippodamia convergens. Three color forms of adult multicolored Asian lady beetles, Harmonia axyridis.   Vedalia beetles in foreground, cottony cushion scale in background.
During the inactive pupal stage (left), the larva transforms to an adult (right). This species has converging white marks on the thorax. Number of spots may range from 0 to 13. The multicolored Asian lady beetle (left) ranges from red to yellow with no spots or up to 19 spots on the wings. The thorax is often cream colored with black markings. This larger lady beetle feeds on aphids, scales, psyllids and other insects. The vedalia lady beetle (right) eats only cottony cushion scale, a pest of citrus and certain ornamentals, often providing complete biological control.
Other Aphid-Feeding Lady Beetles (commonly reddish)
Adult California lady beetle.   Green lacewing larvae Pupa of the lady beetle, Axion plagiatum.   Adult (bottom left) and larva (center) of the black lady beetle, Rhyzobius forestieri, and the adult (bottom center) and larva (bottom right) of Chilocorus bipustulatus, with European fruit lecanium scales.
The California lady beetle (left) has no spots on its wings and two widely spaced white spots on its thorax, but no white band between its eyes. The twospotted lady beetle (right) is red with two black spots on the wings and two white blotches on a black thorax, or black with four reddish spots on the wings. Axion plagiatum (left) shown here with its pupa, is shiny black with two red spots and feeds on aphids, oak leaf phylloxera, and sycamore scale. The black lady beetle (right), Rhyzobius forestieri, (adult at bottom left and larva in center) and Chilocorus bipustulatus (adult at bottom center and larva at bottom right) are both scale feeders. Three lecanium scales feed near the leaf vein at top.
Adult sevenspotted lady beetle. Adult ninespotted lady beetle. Adult small ashy gray lady beetle.   Adult and larva of the mealybug destroyer lady beetle, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri.
The sevenspotted lady beetle (left) has a black head with two white spots. The ninespotted lady beetle (right) has a white band on its thorax and a pale white band between its eyes. The California population has no spots. Twenty-spotted lady beetle (left) is about 1/16 inch long. It eats powdery mildew fungus spores and conidia. The mealybug destroyer lady beetle (right) is dark with an orange head and tail. Its wax-covered larva (bottom right) resembles its mealybug prey.

Read more about beneficial insects.

Minimize the use of pesticides that pollute our waterways. Use nonchemical alternatives or less toxic pesticide products whenever possible. Read product labels carefully and follow instructions on proper use, storage, and disposal.


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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