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Aphid Predator (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)

Coccinella magnifica

Scarce seven-spot Ladybird

On this page: Identification Biological control & Distribution

Identification

Coccinella magnifica is a medium-sized to large ladybird at 6-8 mm in length. The elytra are mainly red, but with a small whitish area near the anterior border. There is usually a total of seven black spots, although five to eleven are recorded (see first two pictures below). The central spots are comparatively large and the foremost spots are comparatively small. The pronotum is black with antero-lateral white marks. The legs of Coccinella magnifica are black. There are small white triangular marks on the underside, below both the middle and front legs (cf. Coccinella septempunctata, which has such marks only below the middle legs).

First two images above copyright Gilles San Martin under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Third image above by permission copyright Tristan Bantock, all rights reserved.

The larva (not pictured) is similar in appearance to that of Coccinella septempunctata. It is dark grey black with mostly black tubercles. There are pale orange-yellow lateral patches on the prothorax, the sides of the meso- and metathorax are pale grey, and the dorso-lateral and ventro-lateral tubercles on abdominal segments one and four are orange-yellow. Coccinella magnifica is possibly the only truly myrmicophylus coccinelid (Sloggett et al., 2002) see below.

Biological control & Distribution

Coccinella magnifica is usually found in woodland and heathland close to wood ant (Formica spp.) nests. The adults and larvae are predators of aphids, scale insects, mites, and insect eggs. They are most commonly found on Scots pine trees, where they have been observed feeding on Cinara pinea, Cinara pini and Schizolachnus pineti. They have been recorded predating other aphid species, including Cinara piceicola, Cinara pilicornis and Elatobium abietinum on spruce, Aphis sarothamni on broom, Aphis salicariae on rosebay willowherb, and Aphis ulicis on gorse, all of which are often tended by Formica rufa (see third picture above) or may have the ants gleaning the aphid honeydew from surrounding vegetation. Coccinella magnifica is found throughout north-western Europe and into central Europe.

Acknowledgements

We especially thank Dr. Tristan Bantock, British Bugs, for allowing us to reproduce his image of Coccinella magnifica tended by Formica rufa.

For coccinellid identification and species descriptions we have used Watford Coleoptera Group, together with the latest Wikipedia account for each species. For aphids we have made provisional identifications from photos of living specimens, along with host plant identity using the keys and species accounts of Blackman & Eastop (1994) and Blackman & Eastop (2006) supplemented with Blackman (1974), Stroyan (1977), Stroyan (1984), Blackman & Eastop (1984), Heie (1980-1995), Dixon & Thieme (2007) and Blackman (2010). We fully acknowledge these authors as the source for the (summarized) taxonomic information we have presented. Any errors in identification or information are ours alone, and we would be very grateful for any corrections. For assistance on the terms used for aphid morphology we suggest the figure provided by Blackman & Eastop (2006).

Useful weblinks

References

  • Sloggett, J.J. et al. (2002). The ant associations and diet of the ladybird Coccinella magnifica (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). European Journal of Entomology 99, 565-569. Full text