Ladybird (Mealybug) Cryptolaemus montrouzieri
Species: C. montrouzieri
Binomial name: Cryptolaemus montrouzieri
Common name: Mealybug Ladybird, Mealybug destroyer
Cryptolaemus montrouzieri is ladybird species endemic to Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. It was introduced into New Zealand as a biological control agent against mealybugs and other scale insects.
The 4-5 mm adults have a shiny black body and dull-orange head and posterior. Both adult and larval stages of the mealybug ladybirds have three pairs of legs that can be used for walking. The larva can also hold onto the plant surface with the rear end of its abdomen, which acts like a sucker. Adults have wings and can fly.
Females lay their yellow eggs in the egg masses of mealybugs and other scale insects. Usually, one egg per mass is deposited and she will lay up to 10 eggs per day for up to 50 days.
When the Cryptolaemus montrouzieri larvae hatch they have woolly appendages of wax (their true legs are barely visible underneath) this makes them resemble mealybugs. It is a case of aggressive mimicry. The larvae are fierce predators and grow up to 1.3 cm in length and are active for about 3 weeks and each will consume 250 odd mealybugs and their eggs.
The larva goes through four larval instars and then attaches itself to the plant by its hind end and moults into a pupa. Adults hatch from pupae and immediately mate.
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