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Photo#1398114
Is a larva of coccinellidae/Scymninae/species? - Scymnus

Is a larva of coccinellidae/Scymninae/species? - Scymnus
Santa Cruz, Randall Morgan's Garden, Santa Cruz County, California, USA
July 3, 2017
Size: ~3mm
This looks very like larvae of the Mealy Bug Destroyer, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, except that this was only 3mm, and some others were even smaller. The general look of the body is very similar, but the head is different. The heads of the Cryptolaemus montrouzieri were exposed. The heads of these recently seen bugs are covered in wax. In fact they seem to have pretty much wax horns on them.

So, these seem much smaller, and have wax covered horny heads.
But the most of the shape seems right for a Scymninid beetle. And they came from plants with an abundance of aphids.

I have considered the possibility that perhaps as the larvae get bigger their voracious eating causes the wax around their heads to fall off. And I guess there must be smaller instars than the larvae when the near the time for them to form a pupa.

Scymnus sp.
Moved from Scymninae.

In addition to the differences you've mentioned, Scymnus larvae will frequently associate with plants infested by aphids (Cryptolaemus is typically limited to mealybug and scale insects).

Moved, scymnine larva
Moved from ID Request.

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