Subject: So Many of these Critters in our Tree!
Location: Brownsville Texas
November 28, 2013 8:02 pm
Howdy from South Texas! I was with my folks on Thanksgiving day and we found hundreds of these critters bunched in large groups on our oak tree. At first we thought they were lady beetles in larvae form but now we’re not sure that’s the case! We have some interesting fights with pests in our garden throughout the year and we were wondering if we should be concerned about this insect or not or if it’s a beneficial critter.
Thanks for your help!
Signature: Mike in Brownsville
Howdy back at ya Mike,
Your initial instincts were correct. These sure look to us like the Larvae and Pupae of Twice Stabbed Lady Beetles in the genus Chilocorus, a group with spiny larvae. Here is a matching photo from BugGuide. According to BugGuide, they feed upon “Scale insects, especially in trees” and their preferred habitat is “Usually arboreal (in trees) where scale insects are found.” A comment posted by Eric Eaton to BugGuide states: “The larvae have the spiny appearance shown here, and the pupae are encased in the last, split larval skin.” We have included a close crop of one of your photos, and lightened the image to show this feature. So, you have a beneficial insect population feeding on Scale in the oaks.