Three more subfamilies have all the info pages complete: colorful Coccidulinae; popular Coccinellinae; and plant-eating Epilachninae. That just leaves Scymninae, the largest subfamily, and I’ve even finished all but one genus of that one.
Subfamily Coccidulinae is represented in eastern North America by just four species, three of them introduced from elsewhere in the world for biocontrol. In fact, the first insect ever imported anywhere for biocontrol was the Vedalia Lady Beetle (Rodolia cardinalis), an Australian species that saved the California citrus industry in the 1800s. It’s still an important beneficial predator in citrus-growing areas of California, Texas, and Florida.
Subfamily Coccinellinae is the second-largest in North America and contains many of the most popular, familiar species: the black-spotted red aphid predators that most people think of when they hear the word “ladybug.” One species that has been in the news recently is the Nine-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella novemnotata), the state insect of New York, which was rediscovered there for the first time in 35 years. The species has been rapidly declining in the east, but scientists hope to repopulate it through captive breeding.
No one’s trying to introduce or repopulate anything in subfamily Epilachninae – these plant-eating lady beetles are decidedly unwelcome in gardens! Fortunately there are only four species in North America. The most interesting backstory belongs to the Mexican Bean Beetle (Epilachna varivestis), which was accidentally brought to the U.S. during the Civil War via hay imported from Mexico to feed army horses.
Although work on the site is far from done, I’m glad to have three more subfamilies’ information pages complete! Now, to finish off subfamily Scymninae…and then get back to drawing…