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Description and Biology

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Hyperaspis lady beetles are tiny black oval insects that have various red or orange spots on the wings and thorax. They are adapted to feeding on the egg masses of scale insects that lay their eggs in a dense, cottony mass (called the ovisac). These lady beetles appear about the time the scales start to lay their eggs. The lady beetles lay their own eggs on bark or leaves nearby the scale ovisacs. From the lady beetle eggs hatch tiny grayish larvae which start to feed on the eggs of the scales. As the lady beetle larvae grow, they secrete a dense, white, fluffy covering which makes the lady beetle larvae resemble mealybugs. In a few weeks, these lady beetle larvae fasten themselves to the leaves by the hind end and then they pupate. Ten or so days later another generation of lady beetles emerges and apparently leaves the host plant to go into aestivation. These are unusual lady beetles in that they seem to have a long resting stage that lasts from late spring to the following early spring. Perhaps this is a adaptive strategy to decrease exposure to tiny wasp and fly parasites that plague other lady beetles.

Hyperaspic lady beetle

Hyperaspic lady beetles are tiny, black, and marked with various red or orange spots.

Hyperaspis lady beetle adults and larvae feed

Hyperaspis lady beetle adults and larvae feed on scale eggs in cottony ovisacs.

 Hyperaspis lady beetle larva

This Hyperaspis lady beetle larva has not had time since its last molt to secrete a fluffy covering.

Host Plants

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Hyperaspis lady beetles do not feed on plants, just on soft scales eggs in dense, cottony ovisacs. Such scales feed on many woody ornamentals including andromeda, maple, dogwood, gum, Chinese hollies, camellia, taxus, pyracantha, podocarpus, and jasmine in North Carolina.

Residential Recommendations

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Waiting until late June or early July to treat for scale insects that lay their eggs in cottony ovisacs should avoid killing Hyperaspis lady beetles before they leave for their aestivating/overwintering sites. This also gives surviving soft scale eggs time to hatch and for the crawlers to be exposed on leaves and twigs where they will be much more susceptible to insecticide sprays.

References

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This Factsheet has not been peer reviewed.

Author

Professor Emeritus
Entomology

Publication date: June 30, 2016
Revised: May 5, 2021

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