Ladybird, Ladybird

21 Jul

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.

Hmmm.

It looks like a lady beetle larva (above) and an adult lady beetle (below)

Identify this!

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.

Close-up of the larva.

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.

It’s so clean and spotless…

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.

Caught in the act! Here you can see the spots and the large dark eyes.

 

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.

A short life that has its ups…

… and downs.

 

Special bonus!

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.

Hello!

The praying mantis is one of the few insects that can turn their heads.

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3 Responses to “Ladybird, Ladybird”

  1. njmagas July 27, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

    Mantises are my favorite part of summer here. I always get a little sad when I see them start to brown.

    As an aside, I once saw a lunar moth in the north eastern mountains of Kyoto. It was the first time I’d ever seen one and I haven’t seen one since, but it was a gorgeous sight.

    • wildinjapan July 28, 2014 at 5:23 am #

      Yep, I love mantises too. Too bad they have only a single year life cycle – something that beautiful and facinating should live longer!

      As for your luna moth, I’m guessing it was this.
      For what it’s worth, my favourite moth is this one, which is often mistaken in flight for the dreaded giant Asian hornet.

      Thanks for the shout!

      • njmagas July 28, 2014 at 7:23 am #

        Oh wow! For a divergent species, they are strikingly similar, aren’t they?

        I have never seen a moth like that before. The hornets however, are everywhere. The giant ones don’t bother me so much as the little red ones. Last year they tried for a month to make a nest on our house. During the heat of the day, the workers would all stop and gather on the wall and just… watch. It was creepy. Our neighbourhood has lots of small dogs and children, so I sprayed their nest sites to discourage building. Then they built in someone’s bike basket. Determined little things.

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