There are a variety of insects in the order Coleoptera commonly known as beetles. While some beetles are destructive, others are nice and can play a role in responsible pest control or perform other beneficial duties.
I thought, to start, I’d focus on some shiny blue beetles. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!
First up is a Flea Beetle (Altica spp.). Hard to get this genus down to species. There is one that is called a primrose beetle, so these may be A. litigata given that these were found on Primrosewillow (Ludwigia octovalvis), a Florida Native Plant.
Altica spp. may be a pest of crape myrtle, but the usual host is Ludwigia spp., which can benefit from a little control. Some species of Ludwigia can be a tad aggressive in the wrong situation. I have never seen any of the flea beetles on the two crape myrtles I planted “before I knew”, and, given a choice, I would request they eat the exotic crape myrtle over my pretty Primrosewillows.
Next up are Fruit and Flower Chafers such as this Trichiotinus spp. Flower Chafers are a subfamily of Scarab Beetles. Beneficial in that larvae break down rotten wood. Adults take pollen and/or nectar so have a hand in pollination duties, but may also munch on the plant. I didn’t notice any particular damage on this Thoroughwort. This guy may be T. lunulatus based on a Florida Entomologist key I found online. perhaps more black than blue in color, but the reflection of the sun made it look blue enough to me to call it a “shiny blue beetle”.
Moving on. This Colorful Foliage Ground Beetle (Lebia viridis) was enjoying nectar and/or pollen of a goldenrod. They are beneficial in that they feed on the larvae of a pest, the Apple Flea Beetle (Altica foliaceae). It isn’t a stretch to think that they may also keep my friends the flea beetles discussed above in check.
Further, this ground beetle eats eggs of corn earworm (Heliothis spp.) which is a destructive pest, and adults have been found feeding on the immature stages of grape vine flea beetles. Obviously given the photograph above, they also play a part in pollination.
OK, moving beyond our shiny blue friends, here in our beautifulwildlifegarden.com blog, Lady beetles (or ladybugs if you prefer) are often discussed. Up until now I haven’t seen any mention of a particular species I found this week.
Meet the Mealybug Destroyer (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri). This is a lady beetle that can be as small as 3.4mm (for the metrically challenged such as myself, that is less than 1/8 inch). It is not native to the United States. It was introduced from Australia in 1891 as IPM control on citrus. This guy (or gal) was on Dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium) and was so minute that I’m surprised I saw it. The little flash of red gave it away. Predatory on mealy bugs which is where it gets its common name.
So, that’s my bit on a few species of beetles. It was a hard day’s night to figure out what they all do in our beautiful wildlife gardens.
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