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Photo#358790
Lady beetle associated with cochineal - Hyperaspis trifurcata

Lady beetle associated with cochineal - Hyperaspis trifurcata
Fullerton Arboretum, Fullerton, Orange County, California, USA
December 15, 2009
Larvae of this coccinellid beetle feeds on cochineal insects. In doing so, the larvae appropriate the scale insect's defensive chemical, which is carminic acid. Then, when disturbed, the beetle discharges the acid with drops of its blood, and the resulting compound keeps ants at bay.

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Lady beetle associated with cochineal - Hyperaspis trifurcata Lady beetle associated with cochineal - Hyperaspis trifurcata

good look at the blue eyes
Blue eyes are a distinctive characteristic of Tribes Hyperaspidini and Brachiacanthini, but aren't always visible in a dorsal photo. They stand out very well here.

(My mineral collection has sapphires that aren't this blue!)

 
Got lucky on this one.
It was lower and angled, so I could shoot down on it. The very first one I photographed recently - only one I saw that day - was quite static. Yesterday, there were tons of them, and they were scampering all over the place.

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