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by Valerie

March, 2008

Squash Lady Beetle

squash lady beetle

One of the most well-known beneficial insects is the lady bird beetle. What most people do not know, though, is that there are lots of different kinds of them, over 100 species in Texas alone. Most of these are the typical gardener's friend. Both the larvae and the adults feast on insects that like to eat plants, most notably aphids. There is one genus, however, that is considered the black sheep of the family. Members of this genus do not eat other insects but instead are pests that feed on plants in the squash family, including cultivated vegetables like cucumbers and pumpkin. The squash lady beetle (Epilachna borealis) is one of three species in this genus. They look very much like other ladybugs or ladybird beetles, but are rather on the large side. Another difference is that their color looks more translucent than other ladybugs. They are completely orange or gold colored, with no white markings on the head or pronotum (the bit right behind the head). The spots can vary in size, and sometimes the middle ones are big enough that they blend together into large centered blotches. I've never seen a bad infestation, and the insects in our area tend to feast only on wild plants such as buffalo gourd or similar vines.

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