Biology and Ecology

Every one knows the common ladybirds of gardens and childhood stories. Yet they are but a very few of the wide diversity of species assigned to the beetle family, Coccinellidae. The family name Coccinellidae probably derives from the diminutive of the Latinized Greek word 'Kokkos', a seed or berry in reference to their rounded and convex shape of the beetles. However, other authorities give the Latin Coccinus — scarlet colour, as the root of the name. Some of the commonly seen ladybirds are brightly coloured and patterned, readily attracting the attention of home gardeners and small children. Most species are predatory, particularly on insects that are often pests of agriculture.

Coccinellidae is the biggest family of superfamily Cucujoidea with about 6000 species classified in 370 genera worldwide. There are 57 genera and about 500 species in Australia with about half of them yet undescribed.

Various aspects of the biology and ecology of the Coccinellidae are covered by several thorough reviews and books that should be consulted. These include the works of Clausen (1940), Hagen (1962), Hodek (1967, 1973), Majerus (1994); Hodek and Honek (1996) and Kuznetsov (1997). Drea and Gordon (1990) reviewed the biology of ladybird species that prey on armoured scales (Hemiptera: Diaspididae), and Ponsonby and Copland (1997) reviewed the species feeding on soft scales (Coccidae). Dixon's (2000) book covers ecology of predatory Coccinellidae and their interactions with various prey groups. He also discusses consequences of various ecological traits in ladybirds for their successful application in biological control.

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