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Aphid Predator (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)

Hippodamia variegata

Adonis ladybird

On this page: Identification

Identification

Hippodamia variegata is a small ladybird of length 4-5 mm with a somewhat elongated, oval shaped body. The elytra are red with 3-15 black spots, most commonly nine concentrated to the rear (see first two pictures below). One black spot on the scutellum is partially surrounded by white patches. The prothorax is black with a partial white-yellowish border, and two white spots towards the front. The head of Hippodamia variegata is black with white frontal spots. The femora of the legs are black, but the tibiae and tarsi are brown (cf. Coccinella septempunctata which has entirely black legs).

Third image above copyright Gilles San Martin under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The fourth instar larva of Hippodamia variegata is grey with the tubercles entirely black, except for the dorso-lateral and ventro-lateral tubercles on abdominal segment I which are yellow-orange (see third picture above) (note: we cannot be too certain about the colour pattern of the larva as the available photos are mutually inconsistent). The larva shown is only third instar, but it does not appear to differ from the fourth instar in coloration..

Biological control & Distribution

Hippodamia variegata is mainly aphidophagous, but also eats thrips, whiteflies, scale insects and mites. The Adonis ladybird is mainly found on plants growing in xeric habitats, such as those on sandy, open soils or derelict industrial sites. Our pictures above were taken on a shingle beach. It has been reported as an important natural enemy in a diversity of crops of at least 12 different aphid species, including major pests such as the cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii) and the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum). Hippodamia variegata is native to the Palaearctic, but is now found much more widely, partly by natural spread (e.g. in Australia), and partly through introductions for biological control (e.g. in Chile for control of the cereal aphids Metopolophium dirhodum and Sitobion avenae).

Acknowledgements

We especially thank Rye Harbour Nature Reserve for their kind assistance, and permission to sample.

For coccinellid identification we have used Hackston for the key characteristics, together with the latest Wikipediaaccount 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).

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