CRITTER SPOTLIGHT: Pink Ladybug: Coleomegilla maculata
Good Morning Watershed Explorers,
I hope that you all had a wonderful Fourth of July! Today's critter spotlight is about a creature that is near and dear to most of us, the ladybug. I am highlighting the pink ladybug Coleomegilla maculata in today's post because my family was lucky enough to find one in May, on one of our hikes, and took this great photo!
There are over 5,000 species of ladybugs, and they all sport different numbers of spots, and colors. Many species of ladybugs, or ladybirds as they are referred to in Britain, are wonderful for gardeners because they eat tons of pests. A single ladybug will eat up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Aphids suck sap from the leaves, roots, and stems of a variety of plants, damaging them and often killing them completely. Ladybugs help to limit the damage done by these pesky insects.
Here is some basic information on the pink ladybug pictured to the left.
Pink ladybugs have a pretty far range. They can be found in some parts of Canada, all of New England, New York, and even into the south and mid-western states. This ladybug lives on crops that are impacted by aphids since that is their favorite meal. Some of these include, wheat, sorghum, potato, corn, and cotton.
In addition to aphids, the pink ladybug will also eat mites, insect larvae, and insect eggs. Unlink most ladybugs, it is thought that about 50% of Coleomegilla maculata's diet is plant pollen.
As already discussed, the most important watershed role of the pink ladybug is pest control. Their hunger for aphids makes them a gardener's best friend! Dandelions are found to be one of the pink ladybugs favorite pollen sources, so allowing these "weeds" to flower is important to helping the pink ladybug population.
I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about the pink ladybug. I have included several links below so that you can explore some more on your own. Happy reading and exploring my friends.