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Squash Lady Beetle (Epilachna borealis)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Squash Lady Beetle



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The Squash Lady Beetle is one of the few Lady Beetles that eat plants instead of other insects, much to the dismay of gardeners.



Updated: 07/15/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Squash Lady Beetles feed on the leaves of plants in the squash family. This includes summer squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. They also eat bean and pea plants, making them a nuisance in the garden. They are easy to identify if you are already familiar with the dome-like shape of other Lady Beetles. Squash Lady Beetles are yellow with black spots on both the elytra (wing coverings) and on the pronotum. They are slightly larger than other, beneficial Lady Beetles. They may be mistaken for Spotted Cucumber Beetles because of the similar color and spots. An obvious difference between them is body shape: the Spotted Cucumber Beetle has a long, flat body.

Larvae of the Squash Lady Beetle also feed on the same plants, doubling the damage this insect inflicts. Yellow, oblong eggs are laid on the underside of leaves in clusters of 30 to 40. They look like regular, helpful lady beetle eggs. Larvae look like small yellow hedgehogs, covered in spiky black hairs. Friendly, beneficial Lady Beetle larvae are mostly black with black spines and look more like tiny alligators. Pupae of the Squash Lady Beetle are plump, yellow grubs that may secrete a chemical from their remaining black spines as a defense against predators. Larvae and pupae eat the leaves of the plant, usually from the underside. This makes is difficult to see them when casually passing through the garden. The result of trenching through the leaf tissue is a diminished transfer of nutrients to that part of the leaf. Skeletonized leaves, where only the thin veins of the leaf are visible, are an indication of their presence.

Squash Lady Beetles do not generally harm the fruit production of the plants they eat. Controlling their numbers can be done by hand-picking the adults off of the squash plants. Gardeners can also check the underside of leaves for the yellow egg clusters and rub these off when spotted, but be sure you actually have Squash Lady Beetles before doing so to prevent destroying the eggs of helpful lady beetles.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Garden pest insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Coccinellidae
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          Genus: Epilachna
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            Species: borealis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Epilachna borealis
Other Name(s): Squash Lady Bug, Squash Beetle
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 7mm to 10mm (0.27" to 0.39")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow, black
Descriptors: harmful, spot, round, flying, dot, garden pest
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 7mm (0.3in) and 10mm (0.4in)
Lo: 7mm
Md: 8.5mm
Hi: 10mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Squash Lady Beetle may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Squash Lady Beetle. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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