Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Dotted, Spotted Bug Is Not Always What It Seems

Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Diabrotica undecimpunctata
(Click picture to enlarge)
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A little beetle passed me by.
He didn't make much fuss,
He ran around my garden
Like a tiny yellow bus.
~ Slyvia Gerditz
I love ladybugs. They are so tiny and cute and so helpful in the garden. This year my new roses had aphids and I bought a container of ladybugs and released them in the garden. Then I watched and they chased the aphids and ate the aphids and within a couple of days, the aphids were either dead or had moved on to happier ground. Of course, without the primary food source, the ladybugs quickly followed. But, every once in a while I see them back and smile.

This fellow looked like a yellow-green ladybug. So I took his picture and smiled and said "hello". Then I "Googled" him and to my surprise, this insect is a real and dangerous pest! Also known as the 12 spotted cucumber beetle and the southern corn rootworm (in the larval stage), as an adult beetle he eats cotton, beans, cucumbers, soybeans and others. Even worse, in the larval stage, the worm eats through the roots of corn plants killing them. They are a widespread agricultural menace. Apparently, they were even banned in labs in Europe because it is so hard to get rid of them... and yet... they still managed to migrate on planes and such. OH! MY! I looked as his picture and saw that indeed, he was eating the daylily flower. If they have no flowers, they will make do with the leaves. Where are the birds to eat these pests? The cucumber beetle does not have many natural enemies. I did find a suggestion about a "cucumber beetle death repellent" that sounded strangely similar to the one for Japanese beetles. If you collect the beetles, drown them and blend them up with water into a solution (this sounds really gross) and then spray the solution on your plants they will not bother them. Hmm.. they aren't drawn to the smell of dead beetles? No surprise here, neither am I.

Since I don't relish bug mush in my blender, I quickly ran back outside and was going to collect this pest and squash him flat, even though the dotted cuteness made this difficult. Of course, he was gone and the daylily had this wedge eaten out of the flower... but now I know. And though cute and spotted... the spotted cucumber beetle is now on my list of bugs to squash and not feel bad about it. Who knew cute could be so deadly?

Almost didn't make it but Carmi's theme this week has been "spotty",no excuse me... "dotty". I am sure there are much better examples in his visitor's posts.

(end of post)


kenju said...

I don't think I've ever seen one that color - but thanks to you - I'll know I'll squish him. Good theme for Carmi!

We're having the decks and concrete power washed and it has already taken a day and a half and they aren't through yet. Our well keeps going dry and they have to wait for water to come back. Ugh.

colleen said...

The orange color really woke me up!  We have recently had a locust of ladybugs, which made me stop liking them as much as I used to.

Gilly said...

Ooh, I don't know - you can't get dottier than that ladybird!

Lovely photo!

Gilly said...

Ooh, I don't know - you can't get dottier than that ladybird!

Lovely photo!

Ginny Hartzler said...

This picture is amazing! Some people may not realize how tiny these beetles are and how hard it is to get a good picture of them. You can even see where he's been munching! I'm still trying to get a good picture of a ladybug. We have Cucumber Beetles here, so I knew right away what this was. I love doing posts just like this, that show and teach. Oh, ick to the drowning and mixing repellant!!

Beverly said...

Thanks for this information.  I'll be on the lookout for the guy.  I love real ladybugs too.

shangey said...

so he is NOT a sweet aphid eathing lady bug. he is pretty, but it does look like he ate part of the leaf he is sitting on. squash away, we need cucumbers, i love them. i did not know a person could buy a jar of lady bugs. new info, thanks

shangey said...

thanks for the info, i will have to check our local nursery, never thought about it before.

edgar dionisio said...

Nice shot! and comprehensive info.  I also have a photo of this bug so I googled it and found your blog.