Thursday, May 10, 2012
A 13 Spotted Ladybug
My little bug spotters sighted a second ladybug for our list...
...actually it's the third or fourth ladybug they've spotted since seeing the convergent ladybug, but the others flew away before they could really be studied and identified. This time, we decided to follow the advice from the folks at the Lost Ladybug Project, and captured the little beetle under a milk cap, that happened to be handy. Then, we slipped a piece of paper under the cap, so we could carry our friend through the house, and into the freezer for a few minutes.
It sounds like harsh treatment, but just a few minutes (less than six) in the freezer won't kill a ladybug. It will slow it down for long enough to take a good look at it through a pocket microscope, though.
Those pocket microscopes are really something, too. In my excitement to let the children have a look, before the ladybug thawed out and started moving, my hand slipped, and I flung the device across the kitchen, onto the floor, and into four parts. I was pretty sure it was all over, but after snapping the pieces back together, removing and replacing the batteries, and tightening the tiny light bulb, everything was right as rain. If only all our gadgets were so sturdy.
But, back to the ladybug - which thanks to a quick peek through the microscope, we identified as a 13 spotted ladybug, or hippodamia tredecimpunctata tibialis if you want to get all Latiny and official.
As the name suggest, it has 13 spots (most of the time). Spots can be tricky clues for identifying species of ladybug.
It is usually orange to red, and slightly elongated, or oval shaped.
But, the easiest, and clearest way to identify a 13 spotted ladybug is by the white pronotum (the shell right between the head and the elytra, or wing casing), with the oblong black dot. To me it looks like large black dot, with a smaller dot on each side. The children think it looks like the silhouette of a sheep's head.
It is a native to North America and according to bugguide.net has a range from Newfoundland to North Carolina, west to Alaska and northern California.
Strangely enough, it was thought to be extinct in the UK for 60 years, but was recently rediscovered there, as well.
After we were through identifying our ladybug, we returned it to the garden, where D (age 9) kept watch until he was satisfied it was still alive and well, after it's short stint in the freezer.
It's great to be a homeschooler.