Garden Word of the Day
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Black Lady Beetle
Most of us are familiar with the red-domed, black-spotted variety of ladybug, but there are black lady beetles, too!
aAlso known as black ladybirds and Forestier’s ladybird, Rhyzobius forestieri is a true garden hero when it comes to fighting scale insects.
Black lady beetle description
Black lady beetles are smaller than our common red ladybug. You could fit 5 or 6 of them across the top of a dime. If you look closely, you will see that their dark brown or black bodies are covered with tiny, short hairs. They have dark legs and tan antennae. If you were to flip one over, you would see that the underside is also tan. Adult and larval forms of black lady beetle have 3 pairs of legs and adults can fly.
Black lady beetle have the same alligator-like shape as common ladybug larvae but they are more gray. Pupal cases look a lot like tiny snail shells.
Black lady beetle lifecycle
Nearly microscopic eggs are laid next to, under, or up against scale insects. When the eggs hatch, they begin feeding on scale insects as they go through four developmental stages, or instars. Ultimately, they enter a pupal stage. When adults emerge from the pupal case, they mate and the whole cycle begins again.
The next time you see a tiny black beetle, make sure it’s not one of the Good Guys before squishing it!
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