First Lady Beetle of Spring
Found this Lady beetle while sizing and tagging new Autumn Blaze Maples that arrived this week. It was easy to spot this beetle among the mounds of brown dirt from its bright red wings, otherwise known as elytra. Most insects have two pairs of wings. Beetles are unique in that their outer pair of wings are hard, like a shell.
Many lady beetles species are beneficial predators that eat a variety of soft bodied insects such as aphids or white flies which can be pestiferous in large populations. This means Lady beetles are a welcome sight at Silver Sage.
Why do you say ‘Lady beetle’ instead of ‘Lady bug?’
Carolus Linnaeus is credited as the father of modern biological classification for his work on grouping species according to shared physical characteristics.
All known organisms are classified into eight taxonomic ranks from least specific to most specific (lady beetle example):
Lady beetles are more commonly called ‘lady bugs’ but are an insect classified the order Coleoptera (beetles) and not in the order Hemiptera (true ‘bugs’). All beetles are in the order Coleoptera which include tiger beetles, scarab beetles, dung beetles, japaneses beetle, fireflies and nearly 400,000 more species. The order Hemiptera includes insects such as cicadas, stink bugs, assassin bugs and even aphids.
One major difference that defines either insect order are their mouthparts. Beetles have pinching, tearing mouthparts which move horizontally and are more similar to grasshoppers. True bugs have a long proboscis, similar to a straw, that they use to pierce plant material, sometimes other insects, and suck liquids from leaves and other plant parts.
Insects are a key part of our ecosystem, so next time you’re out in the yard, look a little closer… what can you see?