Polished Lady Beetle

Cycloneda munda
The polished lady beetle is one of the two known native species that reside here on the refuge. They can be identified by their shiny spotless bodies, which make them easy to distinguish from other species. The polished lady beetle is smaller in size compared to the non-natives found in this area, ranging from 3.5-6.2mm in length. Due to their small size, the introduction of the larger non-native species has created competition resulting in endangerment of the polished lady beetle populations.

When out walking on the Kiwa trail, just off the auto tour route on the River S-Unit, you may come across this native species. With the introduction of non-native lady beetle to the United States they aren’t as commonly seen. You will probably see up to ten or more non-native lady beetles before you come across one of these special natives.

Lady beetles also have the potential to be pollinators. Some will supplement their diet of aphids with pollen, nectar, fungi, and aphid honeydew. Being widely known for their diet of aphids they are becoming a popular addition to gardens. You can buy lady beetles from many garden shops to introduce in your garden, but by doing so you may also be introducing non-native lady beetles. To reduce the competition between native and non-native lady beetles always be sure to know the species of lady beetles you are purchasing if you wish to use them to reduce the aphid populations in your gardens.  

Go to the next page for more resources, ways to get involved, and information on why we call them "lady beetles" not "lady bugs!"

Why do we call them "lady beetles" here when everyone calls them "ladybugs"?

What we so commonly refer to as a "lady bug" is actually a beetle. So what is the difference? Bugs (from the order Hemiptera, also called "true bugs") have sucking mouthparts that are needle-like. Think about cicadas and aphids that feed on plant juices. Beetles (from the order Coleoptera) have chewing mouthparts, like our lady beetles friends that eat aphids and other bugs! Also, bugs have soft membranous wings while beetles forewings (those on top) form hard, leathery coverings over their bodies. Life cycles of bugs and beetles are also different. Bugs have an incomplete metamorphosis - adults look the same as juveniles but bigger and with wings. Beetles go through a complete metamorphosis, starting out as a larvae and turning into something quite different looking!

Now don't stop there when learning about how to identify different types of insects... bugs and beetles are just two of the over 29 orders of insects! But don't be overwhelmed. Insect id can be fun. Check out the following citizen science site that can make learning about these little creatures fun.

The Xerces Society for Invertabrate Conservation

Other resources about lady beetles: 

Washington NatureMapping Program

"Ladybugs or Ladybeetles" by Lloyd Eighme retired entomolotist, from the Washington State University

Facts About Polished Lady Beetle

Native species

Spotless and shiny body

Small - 3.5-6.2mm in length

Beetles not bugs (read this article to learn more!)