Looks like ladybug, bug is it?

Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)August 21, 2010

Ok, this morning I was checking my zuccini plants and saw a couple of round orange backed black headed little things which had black spots on their backs.

However, the spots were not scattered like polka dots. Rather, the row behind the head was comprised of smaller dots the size of beebees and they were definitely in a row, not randomly positioned.

I put one of the little critters in a plastic container and brought it inside thinking to get a photo of it. When I opened the container, it had turned a pale almost tannish color where previously it was a deep orange. Now I cannot find it.

Definitely the size of a ladybug. But I cannot find a picture to verify what it is. Good or bad, it is probably loose on my scheffelera which has scale that I've been trying to eradicate without chemicals. I hope it is a ladybug and it eats every last one of those scaly devils. I'm tired of cleaning the sticky stuff off my house plant, and trying to be natural about killing scale.

So tell me. Should I encourage that little insect? Or is it another pest?

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taz6122(N.W. AR.6b)

If it has more than 1 dot the size of a BB then it's too big to be a ladybug. I wouldn't worry about it if all you could find is one.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 7:18PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Picture, please.

What have you tried on your schefflera to get rid of the scale? Can we help?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 10:27PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The Mexican Bean Beetle not only looks very much like many oterh Lady Beetles but is a cousin, althouygh ist is the black sheep of that family of beetles since it is very destructive.
The link will take you to some images.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mexican Bean Beetle

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 7:00AM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

OMG, it IS the MEXICAN BEAN BEETLE. The picture kimmsr gave shows one the tan color it became after I put it in the plastic container. No longer orange. Well, that tells me I better get rid of the old squash plants and let the raised beds go dormant for a while.

Rhizo1, I appreciate your offer of help with the scheffelera. I've used ammonia to clean the leaves, and I will spray the plant with Windex and wipe the leaves. To be so tiny, they sure do put a lot of sticky stuff on the leaves.

I keep the scheffelera on the sun porch which is also the home of my two parrots. So I am low tech with the pest removal. The parrots, an African grey and an eclectus, enjoy shredding leaves occasionally, so nothing with a residue left on the leaves is my plan.

Also on the porch is an 8' tall ficus benjamina, and several bromeliads and Christmas cacti. As far as I can tell, none of these plants has any scale. But I worry about my beloved ficus. It does not like to be moved, so I try to keep a close eye on it.

What do you suggest that I try to remove the scale? If I rake the scales off with a paper towel as I polish the leaves, what % of scale will remain undetected? Is it worth the effort doing it by hand?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 12:57PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Probably not Mexican Bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis), but the Squash Beetle (Epilachna borealis). It would be unusual to find the latter on your squash.

Neither of these insects have black heads, though.

OR, it could even be one of the many different kinds of beneficial ladybugs out there!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2010 at 11:38PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The Mexican Bean Beetle may primarily feed on legumes but they have been known to feed on a wide variety of plants, and because of that many people think they do not have the MBB.
Scale is best controlled with horticultural oil which will smother the wee buggers. During the dormant season a dormant oil can be sprayed but other times of the year a "Superior" oil (a much more refined oil) needs to be used. But also test the oil you plan to use on the plant first because some plants just will not like being sprayed with it. You could also dab on rubbing alcohol, if you like tedious wok.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 7:16AM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

"...if you like tedious work."

Hmmm, that would be better than what I've been doing, which is much the same. I HAVE been wiping each leaf top and bottom, and the stems too. If the alcohol gives me more hope of effective control, I will do that.

I hesitate to put oil on the leaves of any plant in the bird room/sun porch, because tiny pieces of feather fluff tend to collect on the leaves already WITHOUT the oil. In fact, the sticky residue of the scale buggers attracted the downy feathers so much that it became apparent I had a problem. When scale is not present, I can generally just wipe off these bird residues, and no problem, but not when the scale arrived.

I also spray the plants regularly, because of all places in the house, this room is least humid...what with the window a/c and the air cleaner and the 270 degree of exposure to sunlight and the ceiling fan which runs when the parrots are in their cages and not flying around. I tend to baby those plants the most.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 10:31AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

No need for 'tedious work'! Just mix up a solution of one part rubbing alcohol to three parts water (or even stronger) in a misting bottle and mist all parts of the plant. Keep the misting bottle handy so you can do it frequently.

Please know that horticultural oils are the most recommended solution for scale insects. They shouldn't leave a gummy coating on your plant, though. Might be worth trying it once or twice a year. Schefflera is a prime target for scale, just so you know. I've known many people who consider it a lost cause.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 12:55PM
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