For whatever reason, the hops plant outside the front door, whose vines screen the patio area from direct street view became a designated ladybug-generating factory. This also means that there was an aphid attack. The plant has never had insect problems before, but like my apples and some other plants that normally never get visited by aphids, this is the year of infestation, in spite of a very cold winter.
The hops ladybug hatchery and nursery.
Normally, the honeysuckle serves as the garden’s aphid residence, and the rest of the plants are spared any infestations. The stalwart honeysuckle starts to look very shabby by the end of June, its new buds barely able to blossom forth before being smothered by aphid larvae, but it has no problem surviving. I remain grateful to it for its sacrifice in this way. Ladybugs hang out on it also, but don’t ever seem to gain the upper hand in controlling the aphids.
Never before have I seen so many immature ladybugs in so many stages of development,on a single plant, and I have no idea where the adults came from. Perhaps some neighbor released a packet of several hundred, and, typical of these creatures, they left their original release area in search of food elsewhere. It’s a blessing to have so many of these beauties around, contributing their assistance to the bounty! And they always bring smiles to people’s faces.
Various stages of ladybug larvae. Eggs are typically a yellow-orange color, that eventually “hatch” into the larvae, of which there are several sizes here. Once they molt 3 times as larvae, then they become pupae (like the one closest to center), before they transform into the adults we are more familiar with.
A beautiful picture of two non-adult ladybugs. The one on the right is almost an adult, but still has no wing differentiation; it is the pupal stage, occurring just after the larva on the left molts 3 times. The youngster larvae are voracious eaters. Adults also eat many aphids, but function more as re-locators, flying off elsewhere, meeting other adults, laying more eggs, and ensuring the survival of the species, all in the general time frame of 1 month…;-)