Identification & Distribution
The adult Anatis ocellata (eyed ladybird) has a variable number of black spots (usually 15-18 but varies from 0-23) on a red background. Each spot is surrounded by a yellowish halo. The typical form is shown in the first picture below. A variety is shown in the second picture below where the yellowish halo extends as a longitudinal band over each elytra. The pronotum is white with a thick black M-shaped mark. The legs are black. This is a large ladybird, with a body length of 7-8.5 mm.
Both adults and larvae of Anatis ocellata feed on aphids, mainly on pine trees and other conifers.
Biology & Ecology
The eyed ladybird mainly feeds on aphids on pine trees, especially the waxy grey pine needle aphid (Schizolachnus pineti ) and (presumably) the waxy brown pine needle aphid (Schizolachnus obscurus ). Note these Schizolachnus species are not adelgids - they are 'true' aphids, of the family Lachnidae.
Kesten (1969) carried out investigations on the morphology, biology and ecology of the largest central European, yet little-known coccinellid species, Anatis ocellata both in the laboratory and in the field. His work focused on the orientation of the larvae and beetles, their search and the location of prey. Characteristic of Anatis ocellata are their positive phototaxis and the lack of sensory organs to perceive food at a distance. Thus, the success of their search for food essentially depends on chance, on the population density of the aphids, and on their own ability to move. Anatis ocellata is very sensitive to the odor of pine needles. The olfactory stimuli emanating from these attract the beetles and thus indirectly lead them to the main food, the aphids feeding on pine needles. Breeding experiments showed the strong influence of the type and amount of food on the development and lifespan of these coccinellids. It prefers the waxy grey pine needle aphid Schizolachnus pineti, but if it is absent it also takes other prey animals and even vegetarian food.
Nikitsky & Ukrainsky (2016) also report that Anatis ocellata feeds most frequently on aphids on pine trees, but also occurs on spruces, birches and aspens. Savoiskaya et al. (1983) have recorded them feeding on cicadellid (leafhopper) larvae on Populus tremula (aspen). They also reported that the adults of Anatis ocellatae overwinter in leaf litter on the ground. The experimental work by Kalushkov & Hodek (2001) on new 'essential' prey for Anatis ocellata and Calvia quatuordecimguttata is rather misleading since in the field this predator is most unlikely to encounter the prey that were used in the experiment.
Lebrun et al. (1997) identifed a new coccinellid defensive alkaloid - 2-dehydrococcinelline - from this species
Biological Control of Aphids
Anatis ocellata has not as far as we know been used in any classical biological control programme (i.e. rearing and mass release), but it may well be involved in the natural regulation of various aphid conifer pests. Kesten (1969) believed that due to its large size, Anatis ocellata would be a significant enemy of Schizolachnus pineti, despite the activity of spiders and a pupal parasite in the family Phoridae.
- Kalushkov, P. & Hodek, I. (2001). New essential aphid prey for Anatis ocellata and Calvia quatuordecimguttata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Biocontrol Science and Technology 11(1), 35-39 Abstract
- Kesten, U. (1969). Zur Morphologie und Biologie von Anatis ocellata (L.) (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae). Journal of Applied Entomology 63 (1-4), 412-445 Abstract
- Lebrun, B. et al. (1997). 2-Dehydrococcinelline, a new defensive alkaloid from the ladybird beetle Anatis ocellata (Coccinellidae). Journal of Natural Products 60(11), 1148-1149. Abstract
- Nikitsky, N.B. & Ukrainsky, A.S. (2016). The Ladybird Beetles (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) of Moscow Province. Entomological Review 96(6), 710-735. Full text
- Savoiskaya, G.A.. Coccinellid larvae (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) of the Fauna of the USSR (Nauka, Leningrad Branch, Leningrad, 1983). (Keys to the Fauna of the USSR, Published by the Zoological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, no. 137) (in Russian).