Wednesday, March 10, 2010
This seven-spot ladybird beetle, Coccinella septempunctata, was stretching its wings (both elytra and flight wings) on top of a ligustrum japonicum texanum sprig. You can count the seven spots on the elytra; the one in the middle is truly two spots fused into one slightly heart-shaped one; but if we recognize these spots as two we we'd have to say "octopunctata" which isn't nearly as fun as "septempunctata". This beetle was introduced from Europe to control aphid pests on numerous occasions but the introduction didn't stick until 1973 when the species became established and has since spread throughout N. Amer.
Yes I do have a privet hedge; it lines the driveway just so, attracts bees with its spring bloom, and is so reliably green. The key to having a nice privet is to lace it out every three years or so. Trim the thing as if it were a tree, reducing the branch length and density to open up the inside and stimulate new growth.