War of the Larvae: Ladybug Grub Eats Flower Fly Maggot!

May 24, 2016

Immature ladybug eating flower fly larva, photo by Brian Brown. Urban Nature Research Center (UNRC) co-director Dr. Brian Brown recently wandered out of his home into his Monrovia backyard and caught sight of something unexpected on the outside of his insect trap: an immature ladybug (also known as a larva or grub) consuming the larva of a flower fly (also known as a maggot).  The large, tent-like Malaise trap—used in the UNRC's BioSCAN project to collect and study flying insects from multiple sites across Los Angeles—has a sloped, white mesh cover that serves as a perfect backdrop to capture an image of a bristly black and orange ladybug larva mid-meal. Brian’s Malaise trap sits at the foot of an old, towering Valencia orange tree, which thrives and produces massive amounts of citrus despite hosting armies of what most of us consider garden pest enemies. “The tree is festooned with scale insects, aphids and whitefly,” Brian says. The tree is never sprayed with any kind of pesticide or treatment, and for that reason beneficial insects, with their smorgasbord of dinner options, are a year-round presence in Brian's garden. The larvae of both ladybugs and flower flies are voracious predators, eating  hundreds of soft-bodied, sap-sucking pests and are prized inhabitants of his garden. “Ladybugs are thought of as cute, storybook creatures. They're actually lions, ferocious predators as larvae and adults.” What struck him about the vision of a ladybug larva chowing down on a fellow beneficial bug? It's not often, he says, you see one beneficial insect consuming another. “It challenges how we think about what it means to be beneficial.”  

(Posted by: Karen Klabin)

2 Comments

This particular ladybug species (Harmonia axyridis) is highly aggressive compared to most species so it does not surprise me. Great work capturing this behaviour in action!

I am feeling so relaxed these days as I have freed my home from all kinds of pests with the help of professional pest exterminators. They are readily available for removing all kinds of insects and pests.

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