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Lady Larva - Scymnus

Lady Larva - Scymnus
Encino, Los Angeles County, California, USA
February 19, 2006
Size: 1/2 inch
On Wild Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) in my front yard.

There were 4 of them on on one stem- separated by less than a body length.

All our fleecy ladybug larvae seem to get IDed as Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, though many seem to be Scymnus

Reared larva
Here's a larva with waxy filaments that was actually reared out and confirmed to be something other than Cryptolaemus montrouzieri: .

My ID of Scymnus sp. not be warranted, though. Comments welcome.

Still distinct from Cryptolaemus
By nature of the filaments. I am anticipating yours to be something else entirely that isn't well-documented in larval stage.


Moved from Scymnus.

Do you have any way
to tell Scymnus larvae from Cryptolaemus?

Nothing foolproof
There seems to be a difference in the wax filaments: Cryptolaemus' seems to end in thinner, scragglier shapes, while those of Scymnus seem to have a fuller, fluffier and rounder shape. The main reasons I don't believe mine are Cryptolaemus:
  1. Diet.Cryptolaemus are supposed to be mealybug and scale insect specialists. The impression I get from reading the references online is that they would only eat aphids if they ran out of mealybugs. Mine have always been seen feeding on aphids. There are scale specialists among the Scymnus species, but I don't think they all are.
  2. Adults. I've never seen anything that looks like the adult Cryptolaemus, but I've seen and photographed what seems to be a Scymnus adult:
On the Cryptolaemus montrouzieri image page, these seem to me to be Cryptolaemus montrouzieri:
These seem to me to be Scymnus:
My remark about most seeming to be Scymnus looks to be an overstatement, but it's still a significant number. To complicate things more,Cryptolaemus and Scymnus aren't the only genera with white, waxy larvae. My guess is those are limited to the Scymnini, but I haven't checked.

limited to subfamily Scymninae, anyway...
Some of the genera out of Tribe Scymnini have "fuzzy white" larvae too. Tuft length and shape don't matter much - a late-instar Scymnus will have longer messier tufts than a freshly-molted second-instar Cryptolaemus. The body color under the tufts may be gray, pink, or yellow - unfortunately all of them are yellow after a molt.

Useful distinctions are antennae (seen with a microscope), mandibles, relative length of leg segments, integuement texture (microscope again), and size/location of terga. Ventral views are always helpful, and can show head, legs, and color, but the dorsal integuement and terga are usually concealed by the tufts.

For now, if it's not eating a mealybug in a citrus tree in Florida or California, and didn't hatch out of an egg laid by a known female or metamorphose into a known adult, I'm putting it at subfamily level.

Well, this is certainly a starting point
- I'll be referring people to this page, now!

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