Monday, June 29, 2009

Harmonia axyridis? Or Oenopia excellens?

This morning, I went to hunt and record for ladybirds in the car park area nearby my apartment. I managed to collect 5 ladybirds: 2 chilocorus spp?; 1 unknown red spp; 1 unknown red with 4 spots; and 1 probably Harmonia axyridis (Multicolored Asian ladybirds). If it is true that I did catch H.axyridis, then I would be so grateful because I have been searching for this species for such a long time. However, I am not sure whether it is H.axyridis because there is also another species with similar coloration , Oenopia excellens (Crotch) female (based on Dr. J.Poorani site). This need to be confirmed. Guess I have to ask Prof. Idris. I could not find one in MARDI collections. Afterall, if it is true H.axyridis, then I would be the first person who record the first sight of Multicolored Asian Ladybird in Malaysia.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Food-Preference-Based Ladybird Identification

I usually group the ladybird species that I catch according to the food preference in order to identify them. However, there are many ways to identify ladybirds based on some other characteristics. But to me, grouping and identifying them based on food preference arethe easiest ways. Here is how I do it according to the article by Frank & Mizell (University of Florida IFAS Extension):
a) Plant Feeding ladybird (Phytophagous) : Epilachninae
b) Mildews (Fungus) Eating ladybird
c) Predatory Ladybird :
1) Feeding on Aphids
2) Feeding on Whiteflies
3) Feeding on Mites
4) Feeding on Cottoncushion Scales
5) Feeding on Mealybugs
6) Feeding on Scale and Armored Scale Insects

Remember also that ladybird has its own natural enemies like birds, spiders and its own kind. Pathogenic bacteria are also its potent enemy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What a Dangerous Bug World is out there....

I would like to share some of my observation during the collecting activity. Right now, it's about Mr. Prepupa. Ladybirds are holometabolous insects which means, before they become adults, they must undergo larval stage. This is a challenging phase for it as it must thrive the surrounding for at least the next four larval stages (instars). Last time during the collecting, I found that there were so many larvae of zig-zag ladybirds on corn in response of the aphid, Rophalosiphum maidis. I also found there were many larvae that were turning into pupae but just died. They are known as prepupa. I knew they were dead because when I touched them, they did not move at all like the normal one. And when I squeezed them with a gentle crush, they shattered as if they were hollow. The same thing also happened yesterday when I went to look for C.transversalis. I found the prepupae also exhibited the same problem. They were attached to the leaves, stood still but when were touched, they did not give any response. And when I crushed them, they shattered. I am not sure what cause this mortality. I did not find any parasitoids around nor the larvae of them. Is it because of the weather (temperature, humidity)? Perhaps, it is...Probably the dehydration problem? However, there might an explanation to this phenomenan, that is cannabalism. Cannabalism is typical in ladybird life cycle especially when the food is scarce. According to the book (Insect-predator prey dynamics: Ladybird beetles & biological control), prepupal and pupal stages are the vulnerable period for them as they are succumb to cannabalism. Osawa (1992b) reported that pupae of ladybird, Adalia bipunctata, pupates on the trunks at some considerable distance from the leaves that have aphids resulted in lower pupal mortality. In other words, the more the larva pupates near or at the patch of food prey, the higher the possibility to get cannabilized by other larvae or adults, and the higher the mortalilty is. It is also said that, those prepupae that move off the host plants and pupate on the adjacent plants undergo lower parasitism. This would be a good explanation to my obrsevation above. I realized now that it is a dangerous buggy world out there for a ladybird to survive naturally. What if you put yourself in their situation, do you think you can survive successfully? Think about it.......

Place to find Coccinella transversalis easily...

Yesterday, I went for C.tranversalis hunting in my hometown, Teluk Intan, Perak. I did the collecting in the evening between 6-7pm. After I collected them, I realeased them back because my aim was to record the numbers. I started around the Eastern Garden neighbourhood searching for C.transversalis. The only place I targeted was on the Rumput Sambau or Eleusine indica grass. Like I mentioned before, you can find and catch this ladybird species on this type of grass. Indeed, I did find M.sexmaculatus, the zig-zag ladybird on it too but just in case you are into C.transversalis, then look for them on goosegrass (E.indica). But, I found that the numbers were not that as many as like the one I collected last time. Not sure, perhaps, the weather or the time, it was 6-7 pm la! (ladybird adults are active in the afternoon). So, let's hope that they do not extinct ok!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Little Bit Info on Henosepilachna (Epilachna) implicata

I would like to share some information on Henosepilachna (Epilachna) implicata that I got from an article. According to a paper by Idrus & Nakamura (1985), the ladybird species is closely similar to Henosepilachna sparsa described by Dieke in 1947. Therefore, it is referred as Henosepilachna sparsa " species C" in the list of Epilachninae of Sumatra Barat by Nakamura in 1983. The ladybird is common at latitude 0 to 2000 m and feeds exclusively on bitter gourd (peria) (Momordica charantia). Dieke (1947) described that the adult "sp C" of this ladybird has 28 or less spots with many "non-persistant' spots which is true, like the one I collected. The larva has yellow body color that covers up to the tips of the spines (Yes, compatible like the one I observed on the gourd plant). However, De Gunst (1957) and Kalsohovon (1981) referred it as Henosepilachna implicata. I compared the description of such ladybird and the pattern of the spots on the ladybird that I caught with that of the pictures in an old-version book of Indonesian ladybirds (Forgot the name of the author) and it matched. Therefore, I choose to use the name, H.implicata to make it easier.

Ladybird Hunting

I just got back from ladybird collecting at a vege garden in Serdang. I usually do it in the morning since it is not that hot. I am fully aware that adult ladybirds are active especially in the afternoon (I wrote in a book by Dixon--> Cool book ), but depends on me if I want to do it around that time. Sometimes, I do it in the evening, and I still can find some but not that many. This morning, I managed to collect like ~ 30 of bitter gourd ladybirds (Henosepilachna implicata) on the bitter gourd plants. It was easy to collect them, just need a bottle and voila! They're pretty docile like Henosepilachna indica and dont easily run or fly away. The larva is dark yellow and different from that of H.indica, whereby, H.indica larva has whitish coloration. I also managed to catch 6 Chilocorus politus (Havent yet uploaded the pics of this sps) on ubi kayu with lots of whiteflies, one female Coelophora inaequalis and one Brumus suturalis (Have not yet uploaded) on sugarcane leaf. Finally, I got C.politus and B.suturalis. Ive been looking for these species for such a long time. Others maybe the Stethorus sps and one Cryptolaemus montrouzieri on ubi kayi with whiteflies.

I usually dont catch ladybirds in large amount, just enough for small collection and recording. If I come across ladybird sps that I have already had in my collection, I just record the numbers.
Happy hunting...

A mistake..?

I went to MARDI Entomological Lab to identify this ladybird sps:

At first, I thought this was the red-color variety of Curinus ceoroleus because I found the species along with C.coeloreous in the paddy plot. However, after identifying it under the microscope and comparing with the morphological characters of C.coeloreous, this ladybird was different in terms of the white spot pattern on its pronotum. I also found this ladybird in large number on a big tree (Not sure the name of the tree) around my house and surprisingly, there was also a smaller individual with entirely red in color in the group. I assumed that it was the same species , not sure if it was female or male. I will upload more pictures of this species soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

An Inspiration

I have been inspired by the UK ladybird survey website for a year now but no progress has been made until now. I have planned to document every species of Malaysian ladybird in one website in order to tell the world that Malaysia is also rich in ladybird fauna. No such effort has been made until this day and it is a sad thing. I have corresponded to Mr Peter Brown, the director of UK ladybird survey, about my ambition and he was so glad and encouraged me to do so. He has given me some plans and strategies to initiate such website through survey from the public. I wonder how long it will take to fulfill my inspiration...

Training in Ladybird?

Two weeks ago, I was schocked to receive an email from a ladybird scientist in Australia, Dr. Adam Splinski. Actually, I have been corresponding to Dr. Adam for a while and havent received any news from him until two weeks ago. He told me he would like my help to collect as many Malaysian ladybird species as I could and send to him before this August. He is currently doing a molecular phylogeny study on ladybirds with his two students , therefore he would like me to assist him. He has already sent my name as his colloraborator to Dr. Mike from the states for the grant.
I realized now I have another job to do apart from completing my Master degree....

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lady Part 3

Today, our ladybird buddy is the Maculate ladybird.
Harmonia octamaculata (Maculate ladybird)

(a) (b)
Maculate ladybird is another species that can be found in lowland areas in Malaysia. This ladybird is pretty large and it feeds on aphids, pysllids, hoppers and probably whiteflies. It is rare to find this species in vegetable garden but easily can be detected on goosegrass (Eleusine indica with ragi aphid) or in paddy field. I only found a small number of this ladybird in chili plants but the last time I went to paddy field, I managed to catch a large number of them. (a) form is the typical for this species but sometimes it exhibits variation in its spots (b).


Okay, let's continue with other ladybirds.

Illeis bistigmosa (Fungus-eating ladybird)

Today, our next ladybird is the fungus-eating ladybird or fungivorous ladybird. This species can be found on leaves that have whitish powder sorta (fungus). Last time, I caught a large amount of this ladybird on cowpea plants in Jalan Kebun Mardi. It does not eat aphids like other entomophagous ladybirds but the adult and larva feed on fungi. However, I read an article that says the larva of such species does consume aphids when reared under lab condition. You can try your luck by finding this ladybird on dying leaves that have whitish fungi. I cannot tell you the exact plants since I am not sure the hosts. But from my field experience, I recommend you to look for them on dying cucumber and sunflower leaves. And of course the cowpea plants. The larvae have some sorta like black row of spots on the abdomen and yellowish white in color. The adult of course is bright yellow. Good luck finding!

Curinus coeruleus (Dark Metallic ladybird)

(a) (b)

This is another Malaysian ladybird that can be seen however, it is not as common as the zig-zag ladybird. The species I caught was on paddy with pysillids. A paper tells that this ladybird consumes pysillids. I do not know much about this species since it is hard to be found. The (a) form is the typical form but I came across this red color form (b) in the same site. Anyway, if you find this species, try to observe it carefully ok and dont get confused with another ladybird species, Chilocorus nigritus.
Coelophora bisellata (Bisellate ladybird)

Bisellate ladybird is one of the common ladybirds in Malaysia but it is hard to be found. From my field observation, the species often can be seen in vegetable garden and grassy areas, especially on goossegrass (E.indica) with ragi aphid, if you are lucky enough. The male and female form exhibit the same marking spots, therefore it is difficult to tell the sex. Do not confuse bisellate ladybird with the spotted female of Coelophora inaequalis (Variable ladybird). The tip is, compare the big spot on center of the wing of bisellate ladybird with that of the variable ladybird. Good luck!

Micraspis discolor

This ladybird is also a common species and can be generally found in large number in paddy field. As an addition, from my experience, it can also be found on chili plants with aphids. The ladybird is almost the same size of the zig-zag ladybird and the markings on the pronotum ('neck') are almost the same. However, if you observe carefully, this ladybird has two spots on its 'neck' and do not merge with the bottom crest-like spot like that of the zig-zag ladybird. Also, there are no spots on its wings.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Kind of Lady Are You?

These are some of my collections on ladybird species that I would like to share:

Menochilus sexmaculatus (Zig-zag ladybird)

(a) (b)
This ladybird is very common in lowland areas. It can be found in Indonesia, India, and Thailand. To date, this sepcies can also be found in South American Continent (Chile, Peru) (Guillermo, 2011). In Malaysia, it feeds on a wide variety of aphids, psyllids, and whiteflies. However, I have never seen it devours scale-insects and mealybugs, but probably it does. It can be found almost everywhere, in grassy areas, paddy fields, vegetable gardens, and orchards. From my experience, if you ever come across this species anywhere, just look at the marks on its pronotum ('the neck'). The marks are very vivid. But becareful not to depend on the spots on the wings because some members are spotless (b) or the spots can be merge. Basically, if you want to catch this species, just look on the chili plants, maize or eggplants, or other vegetable leaves etc.. The tip is, if you see ants coming up and down the plants, probably the food is there and try to check under the leaves. Who knows you might ended up finding them. Happy hunting!
Coccinella transversalis (Transverse ladybird)
(a) Adult (b) Pupa
(c) Larva
This ladybird is also one of the common species that can be found in lowland areas. Another name of the species is Coccinella arcuata. The ladybird is bigger than M.sexmaculatus. You can find this species in vegetable gardens, and grassy areas. From my experience, the easiest place to look for this ladybird is on goosegrass/rumput sambau (Eleusine indica) with red ragi aphid (Hysteroneura setariae). In fact, data from my previous research on ladybird conservation showed that the ladybird was as abundant as M.sexmaculatus in the goosegrass area. So, if you see this ladybird, just look at the mark on the 'neck' (pronotum). The pronotum is dark almost entirely with one red spot on the edge of each side of the pronotum. You can also see the markings on the wings but its hard for me since they are almost similar to that of Menochilus sexmaculatus. Good luck finding!

Coelophora inequalis (Variable ladybirds)

(a) Male (b) Female
(c) Female form spotless
This is another common ladybird species that can be easily found in our backyard. C.inequalis feeds on a wide variety of aphids, from my observation, and sometimes on whiteflies. They also probably devours spider mites, psyllids, scale-insects and mealybugs. From my observation in the field, the ladybird exhibits two types of female forms : (b) & (c) while (a) represents the male. The (b) form female can be easily seen around however, the (c) form is quite rare. Do not confuse the (c) form with Chilocorus politus which I will describe later on. From my experience, when the zig-zag ladybird numbers are abundant, C.inequalis may also be around as well. I am not sure about this but it is true. So, if u are looking for the zig-zag ladybird (M.sexmaculatus), dont forget about this buddy ok. Happy hunting!


Cheeky Ladybirds....