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Ladybug, ladybug, what's all that stuff? - Hyperaspis trifurcata

Ladybug, ladybug, what's all that stuff? - Hyperaspis trifurcata
Santiago Oaks Park, Orange, Orange County, California, USA
October 5, 2006
Already identified in another post as hyperaspis, this ladybeetle lives on cactus amid cochineal. Often, it's in, on or sticking to the white stuff - this one is particularly pristine. I'm trying to understand what's going on in the cactus and eager to share info with others here at Bug Guide. Can anyone explain the "stuff" around the beetle? It feeds on cochineal larvae, from which it obtains an offensive defensive chemical discharged with droplets of blood when disturbed. (I'm hoping that explains the red drops.) While I haven't seen it, a fly (Leucopis sp.) also feeds on the cochineal larvae, in case this info proves helpful. Also, many small wasps have been seen at the site.

Can anyone help me sort through the stuff surrounding the beetle?