Plant-Insect Interaction: Lady beetles on garlic mustard

Lady beetles (family Coccinellidae) on garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, Brassicaceae). Photographed 05/07/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

This time of year I frequently find lady beetles (family Coccinellidae) crawling around on a variety of flowers.   It seems that they’re eating pollen, but I can’t be sure.  They’re normally considered predaceous, with the adults and larvae feeding primarily on tiny soft-bodied insects like aphids (Triplehorn and Johnson 2005).  Such prey may be present on these flowers, but I haven’t seen them.  I suspect the pollen itself may be a convenient and nutritious side dish for these predators.

Lady beetles (family Coccinellidae) on garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, Brassicaceae). Photographed 05/07/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Regardless of what these beetles are doing on these flowers, they apparently didn’t get the memo about the harm caused by invasive garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, Brassicaceae).  They’re unwittingly helping to pollinate these plants, aiding in their reproduction.

Literature cited:

Triplehorn, C.A. and N.F. Johnson.  2005.  Borror and DeLong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects.  Seventh Edition.  Thomson Brooks/Cole, Belmont, CA.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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