Are there any Thai ladybirds?
For fun I asked Ketsanee if she knew the beetle below. She said “Oh yes, this is ‘tao thong’ (the golden turtle)”. I asked if she considered it harmful or useful, and she responded she has never seen it cause any harm to plants. On the contrary, Ketsanee said they used to see them in masses when the young rice emerged. They never wasted money to spray their rice and so they got ladybirds instead.
The ‘transverse ladybird’ (Coccinella transversalis, Coccinellidae, Coleoptera) is a welcome guest at Dokmai Garden. At present their numbers are increasing, which is good for controlling all sorts of aphids and other related pests. Their job saves us time and money, keeps the garden chemical free and their beauty adds to the visitor’s experience. Some ladybirds can be bought for pest control, but that is only suitable inside greenhouses where wild ladybugs can not enter. This species is native from India to Australia, and was described by the Danish Zoologist Johan Christian Fabricius in 1781. He kept the tradition of his teacher Linnaeus (1707-1778) alive by describing some 10 000 insect species.
Another ladybird at Dokmai Garden is the ‘giant bamboo ladybird’ (Synonycha grandis, Coccinellidae, Coleoptera). For a Swede like me, this 15 mm ladybird is indeed a giant. As the name implies, bamboos (Dendrocalamus in particular) can be attacked by aphids too, causing unattractive and sooty black fungal growth on bamboo leaves covered with the sweet aphid exudates. This guided missile attacks such aphids specifically, while a cloud of gas kills everything including butterflies and bees. It feeds on aphids on other plants too, including woolly aphids in sugarcane fields. This species was described by the Swedish naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg in 1781.
Text & Photo: Eric Danell