Eye-spotted lady beetle

2011 May 14

We caught this beetle in the back yard on July 31, 2010. I can’t remember now whether we caught it with a sweep-net in the grass, or whether it was one of the ones that we collected by putting a tarp under a small tree and then whacking the tree with a stick. Both of which methods are very productive for collecting lots of insects, by the way. It is clearly a lady beetle, it has the standard lady beetle body shape and general coloration. Although it was a bit larger than the average lady beetle, probably twice the length of the standard little orange-with-black-spots types[1].

The numerous black spots with pale rings around them means that this is an Eye-Spotted Lady Beetle, Anatis mali. These are considered one of the “giant lady beetles”, but even when they are giants, lady beetles aren’t all that big- I’d estimate that this one was still a bit under a centimeter long.

Like most other lady beetles, they are predatory on aphids, and defend themselves against predators by being noxious to eat. Of course, noxiousness is most useful if you can survive a predator attack long enough for them to realize how vile you are. Which is why lady beetles are able to tuck up into their shells so that they don’t lose legs while being mauled about.

Between the projecting rim of the wing covers, and depressions on the underbody for the legs to nest into, a scared, huddling lady beetle is pretty compact and rugged.

This particular species is supposed to be mostly arboreal, going after aphids in trees. Which makes me think that this probably was one of the ones that we collected by beating on a tree[2]. BugGuide says that eye-spotted lady beetles are more red-orange with paler rings around the spots when they first emerge from their pupae as adults, and then gradually get darker as they age. If they get old enough, the rings get hard to see and they can evidently turn almost black.

[1] These photographs are good enough for ID purposes, but are pretty much failures from an aesthetic point of view. The lighting was all wrong, and there were some focusing issues. That glare off of the wing covers is particularly annoying. Among other things, I’m experimenting with polarizing the light to try to eliminate those annoying bright highlights.

[2] I really need to start keeping better records when I take pictures. Which is to say, more than zero records. The photo metadata that the camera records is fine for keeping track of the date they were photographed, but not so good for reminding me where and how they were caught. It wasn’t so bad when there were only a few, but I must have pictures of close to 400 small arthropods by now, and they are all blurring together in my mind.

8 Responses
  1. Carole permalink
    May 14, 2011

    Have you considered reporting your find to the Lost Ladybug Project? Check out their website, you’ll enjoy it. Lovely beetle. Never seen that one.

  2. theozarkian permalink
    May 20, 2011

    Great site. (Love the footnotes!!).

    Hope you do not mind that I established a link to TBAP from MY blog, The Ozarkian (www.theozarkian.wordpress.com). If you visit the site, and HATE it, let me know, and I’ll remove your link, so that you won’t suffer needless shame and embarrassment.

  3. lily permalink
    May 20, 2011

    i just found one here in st sauveur quebec. it likes pine trees and we’ve got a lot of pines here. first time i’ve ever seen one too. thanks for your post.

  4. May 21, 2011

    TheOzarkian: No objections at all, I appreciate the link. Your site looks good, too.

  5. May 21, 2011

    Lily: They are rather striking lady beetles, aren’t they? I kind of suspect that they are a lot more common than they seem, and that I’ll turn up a lot more of them next time I go out beating trees for insects.

  6. Della3 permalink
    July 31, 2011

    Tim, you can right-click the photo, select “properties” and add comments under the details tab, but this is time-consuming. Professional photographers do keep a small notebook where they record details about their photographs as they take them. I’m not a professional, and I don’t need a lot of detail, so I prefer to just put my photographs in folders and subfolders with titles that tell me all that I need. Do you subscribe to the newsletters for Digital-Photography-School.com? I think they once described a method for adding comments to large batches of photos.

  7. cwylie permalink
    April 13, 2012

    All over my house…how do I get rid of them?

  8. April 16, 2012

    cwylie: Well, mainly just wait, and they’ll move outside as soon as the weather warms up. In the meantime, just vacuum up the accumulations on your windowsills, and take comfort from the fact that they aren’t actually getting into your food, drinking your blood, or eating your clothing – they’re just hanging out for the winter.

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