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Photo#360046
Lady beetle on cactus with cochineal - Hyperaspis trifurcata

Lady beetle on cactus with cochineal - Hyperaspis trifurcata
Fullerton Arboretum, Fullerton, Orange County, California, USA
December 20, 2009

keep an eye out for the larvae
They're covered in white waxy bits but I don't think they have the long tufts of Tribe Scymnini. The size could be up to 6mm - well-fed 4th instar larvae are about twice the length of the adults.

I honestly don't know if they feed out in the open in the same place as the adults; some scymnine larvae do things like live underground in ant colonies, and are hardly ever encountered.

If you happen to see something like that, I would love to see a photo. Don't go out of your way on my account, though, I don't want to sound like I'm giving you homework over Christmas vacation :-)

 
Did you see my earlier post?

I haven't found out much since, except the tiny winged beastie is the male cochineal insect. My guess is that the larvae - of anything associated with cochineal - would be under the blanket.

Also check: http://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/hemipt/Dactylopius.htm

I think I'm about done with my near daily vigils here, but will get back from time to time. When I visit, I do scour the cacti. Ouch! If the larvae are outside and movin', I'll get 'em!

 
under the blanket
That would be typical coccinellid behavior. Chilocorus lays eggs under scales, Cryptolaemus lays them under female mealybugs, so Hyperaspis giving its larvae a head-start in a cochineal blanket would make sense.

I don't think any of the critters in the linked photo is a Hyperaspis larva, the worm-like one is too elongated. But those yellow objects might be its eggs...about the right size and shape. Speculation, of course, but I'm very intrigued by this miniature ecosystem!

 
It is quite interesting to study.
Potentially painful, too. Maybe I'll do some scraping. I did a bit this weekend at another site - sans gloves - and am still regretting it. (Usually, I don't take prisoners, but may have some detainees under this scenario.)

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