NC State Extension Publications

Description and Biology

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The eastern velvethead lady beetle, Zilus horni, is a very small (1/16 inch), black, shiny, oval insect that has noticable setae on the thorax and face, hence the name "velvethead." Its feet are brownish. Females lay tiny, oval eggs usually in small groups and usually near prey. From eggs hatch tiny, elongate larvae some species of which secrete a fluffy covering that resembles a mealybug. The larvae eventually pupate usually by fastening to the leaf by the rear end. Some time later a new generation of adults emerges. It is likely that the eastern velvethead lady beetle overwinters as adult beetles in some sheltered place. Little has been published on the biology of velvethead lady beetles.

Zilus aterrimus

Zilus aterrimus is in the same genus as the eastern velvethead lady beetle and is very similar in appearance.

Eastern velvethead lady beetle

Eastern velvethead lady beetles are tiny but have noticeable setae on the head and thorax.

Lady beetles in the genus Zilus are predators of armored scale insects (although I have collected a Zilus lady beetle associated with the crapemyrtle aphid). One species of Zilus has been found to feed on whitefly nymphs although they seem to feed largely or entirely on armored scale insects. In general, lady beetle larvae and adults may supplement their diet with flower nectar and honeydew when prey is scarce.

Residential Recommendations

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When treating for armored scale insects, consider using a horticultural oil. These oils are relatively safe for humans, pets, and lady beetles. On the other hand, oils are effective for supressing armored scales, spider mites, aphids, and various other plant pests.

Other Resources

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For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local Cooperative Extension Center.

This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.

Author

Professor Emeritus
Entomology & Plant Pathology

Publication date: Jan. 11, 2020
Revised: Jan. 30, 2020

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