Two larvae on willow oak trunk. Photo: SD Frank

Yesterday on campus willow oak trees were covered in millions of what looked like mealybugs. But they were faster than mealybugs and constantly moving around the tree bark. Mealybugs don’t move much. Matt Bertone at the NCSU PDIC identified them as larvae of lady beetles that specialize on scale insects. This has been a crazy year for lecanium scales. It seems to me like there are more of them on more kinds of trees than ever. 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.

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