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|© John Pickering, 2004-2017|
|Cryptolaemus montrouzieri is a little wolf in sheep's clothing. It's a species in the lady beetle family Coccinellidae. Because its larvae are voracious predators of mealybugs and aphids, it has earned the name Mealybug Destroyer. Its adults are sometimes also called the Mealybug Lady Beetle. As shown here its larvae are covered with rows of white, waxy protrusions. Thus, they superficially look like some of the mealybugs upon which they prey. In 1891 this predator was introduced into California from Australia as a biological control agent of citrus mealybugs. Although Mealybug Destroyers cannot survive cold winters, they are now widespread across much of North America, being sold commercially to control pests, particularly in greenhouses. This series of images shows C. montrouzieri larvae in a colony of Aphis folsomii aphids being tended by Crematogaster lineolata ants on a Virginia Creeper vine, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, in Georgia. Of particular interest is that the ants are not defending the aphids from the predator. Possibly the predator's waxy surface chemically mimics other insects that the ants tend, and thus, the ants are tricked, do realize that it's a threat to their aphids, and do not attack it. So to help you think about and learn the complexity of food webs and species-specific trophic interactions, simply say, "Go, little wolf, eat the sheep, help the creeper!"|
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Updated: 2018-03-20 13:01:48 gmt
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