Common Spotted Ladybird
Adults and larvae of ladybird beetles are important predatory insects in most crops, especially early season and when chemicals have not been used against pests. They are voracious predators of aphids and, under most conditions, (along with lacewings and hover flies), stop aphid populations from increasing explosively.
The main ladybird species found in cotton landscapes include;
Transverse ladybird Coccinella transversalis,
Striped ladybird Micraspis frenata
Three-banded ladybird Harmonia octomaculata,
Minute two-spotted ladybird Diomus notescens,
Mite-eating ladybird Stethorus spp.,
Common spotted ladybird Harmonia conformis,
Variable ladybird Coelophora inaequalis,
White collared ladybird Hippodamia variegata,
Mealybug ladybird Cryptolaemus montrouzieri
Identification: Eggs can be 0.2–2mm in length, are red, yellow or white and oval or rod shaped. Larvae are between 1–8mm in length, come in various colours, elongate in shape and many are adorned with spines. Adult ladybirds range between 1–10mm in length and can be brown, orange, red, blue or yellow with different coloured patterns or spots, usually oval or dome shaped and may be covered in hairs. Adults have the wings for flight, covering large distances to find new food sources and mating partners. The pupae are usually brightly patterned and can be found attached to the leaves and stems of plants where larvae have fed and developed.
Mealybug ladybird adults are small, dark green in colour, with thorax and head yellowish-brown. Their 'tails' are also brown in colour and look like their head. The mealybug ladybird larvae closely resemble mealybugs.
Lifecycle: Females lay clusters of 10 to 50 yellow spindle shaped eggs on plants near their food source, such as aphids or other soft bugs. The larva emerges from the eggs after about 1-2 weeks. The larva reaches maturity within 2 weeks. Pupation takes place on plants where the larva fed and the adult emerges from the pupa after 1-2 weeks.
Habitat: Their distribution is worldwide. They live in a variety of habitats, including most rural and urban landscapes. Their abundance however coincides with the availability of their main food source (Aphids, scale insects and mites).
Targeted prey: They feed on very small insects such as aphids, scale insects, mealybug and mites. Ladybird adults and larvae can also consume significant numbers of Helicoverpa eggs, larvae, mites, whiteflies and jassids. Many ladybirds are especially voracious predators of aphids; the common spotted ladybird can consume up to 2400 aphids in her life-span. The smaller species, such as the mite eating ladybird and minute two-spotted ladybird tend to eat smaller prey, especially spider mites.