Lady beetles are a large family of insects. Approximately 5,000 species are noted worldwide, roughly 400 of these occuring in North America (Gordon 1985).
Coccinellids are often brightly colored insects, oval and convex. The antennae, with are usually clubbed, are typically 11-segmented, but are sometimes found with as few as 7 segments. The abdomen usually has 5-6 visible sterna, rarely with 7, the first sternum usually with a postcoxal line that is often used to distinguish between species. Tibial spurs may be present or absent, and characteristics of the tarsal claws are often used as defining characteristics.
Coccinellids are generally considered to be beneficial insects agriculturally, acting as natural pest control agents. Both the adults and the larvae in many species are predaceous, often feeding on aphids, mites and scale insects. Due to their considerable benefit agriculturally, species such as Harmonia axyridis have been introduced into the United States. This practice has also had its negative aspects: coccinellids overwinter indoors as adults, sometimes proving to be a nuisance. However, this habit does not seem to have reduced the fondness felt for coccinellids among those in the agricultural community.
This site is a result of a project to identify the coccinellids obtained during a trapping program at the Organic Farm of The Evergreen State College. Weekly samples were taken from a Malaise trap between the dates of October 1996 and December of 1997. The coccinellids were separated from the rest of the insects in the samples, curated and identified to the species level. During the identification process, both the expertise of John T. Longino and Robert Gordon's The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of America north of Mexico (1985) were relied upon heavily. This guide is a result of those findings and is intended to help the amateur entomologist to identify some of the local coccinellid species using key characteristics.
Gordon, R. D. 1985. The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of America north of Mexico. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 93:1-912.
Last updated Friday, July 21, 2006, by Lisa Ferrier