Watch for Predators That Look Like Pests

— Written By

Yesterday on campus willow oak trees I found lots of insects that looked like mealybugs. But they were faster than mealybugs and constantly moving around the tree bark. Mealybugs don’t move much. It turns out these are the larvae of lady beetles that specialize on scale insects. Oak lecanium scales are primary pests of willow oaks and these special lady beetles are primary predators of lecanium scales and other scales like tulip tree scales.

Hypoaspis spp. larvae on willow oak bark. These are larve of specialist lady beetles that eat scale insects. Photo:SD Frank

Hypoaspis spp. larvae on willow oak bark. These are larve of specialist lady beetles that eat scale insects. Photo:SD Frank

As all the lecanium crawlers hatch out these lady beetle larvae are hatching too. These lady beetles are in a couple related genera probably including Hyperaspis spp. You can read more about them in a previous post with great drawings. The important thing is to recognize they are not pests, they are predators so you can calm people (yourself) down who fear for their trees and may what to spray them.