The hunt begins…
No, I am simply looking for something to feed our frog. Small grasshoppers or crickets are the best food. Small worms are also excellent, but difficult to find. Slaters (woodlice, sow bugs, or whatever they are called in your part of the world) are acceptable, although not the ones with a tough carapace and that roll up into a ball.
Damned fussy eaters, frogs.
On the leaves of our cucumber plants I notice several insect larvae. They look like lady beetle larvae, but are a green-yellow instead of the usual black. I also notice a small yellow insect with a typical lady beetle outline.
I’m not going to try giving beneficial insects to the frog, and lady beetles secrete toxic fluids, so I ask the good wife to do a quick internet check to see if there is some kind of yellow lady beetle. Yes, there are yellow lady beetles. Yes, they are beneficial.
I decide this little insect is going to be worth checking into…
Note: The English language has a plethora of old and regional names, including “ladybird”, “ladybug”, “lady cow”, “may bug”, “golden bug” and “barnabee”. However, these insects are beetles, and entomologists use the terms “lady beetle” or “ladybird beetle”. I prefer to use the term “lady beetle”, using other terms only as popular common names.
So! Bein’ a ladybug automatically makes me a girl. Is that it, fly boy? Eh?
Francis, A Bug’s Life
The Japanese generic name for lady beetle is tentomushi (天道虫), tento being a reference to the sun – it’s worth noting that in the Japanese collective consciousness the sun is red. The name is also sometimes rendered as 紅娘 or 瓢虫.
Specific beetles then go by the name tento. For example, the seven-spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) is known as nanahoshi tento (七星天道).
The beetle in question is the yellow ladybird beetle (Illeis koebelei). Its name in Japanese is kiirotento (黄色天道), which corresponds perfectly with the English. I’ve also seen it referred to as the yellow spotless ladybird.
A small beetle (3.5 – 5 mm in length), it is best known for feeding upon powdery mildew, making this a truly beneficial insect. It has no spots on its abdomen, but has a pair of black spots on its thorax and large eyes, which look like spots to the naked eye.
Lady beetles apparently have a short lifespan – just two months, although some individuals have been recorded as living for nearly a year, and beetles born in autumn somehow manage to hibernate and survive into the next spring. I’m going to see if I can’t find some eggs.
Although I have not been able to identify the species, I’ll let you enjoy the photos of the baby praying mantis that has made a home on the cucumber plants.