A new Australian ladybird for New Zealand!

by Stephen Thorpe (stephen_thorpe@yahoo.co.nz)

Research Associate, University of Auckland

I have only very recently discovered that the courtyard in front of the Human Sciences Building (HSB), on the University of Auckland City Campus, has plantings of all sorts of interesting and unusual exotic plants, some of which have associated insect herbivores. Some cycads there are infested with various scale insects. On these cycads, I have found two adults of a ladybird new to New Zealand. The adult isn’t going to win any ladybird beauty pageants! It is tiny and uniformly black (see photo on left). However, the structure of the head is quite distinctive, especially the reduced antennae, hidden under a shelf (see photo on right). Based on adult morphology, it clearly belongs to the genus Telsimia, which was hitherto not known to be present in New Zealand. Identification at the species level is a bit trickier, but I have tentatively determined it as Telsimia subviridis (Blackburn, 1892), a common Australian species (Ślipiński, Pang & Pope, 2005). Species in this genus are predators of scale insects, particularly armoured scale (family Diaspididae). Larvae of species in this genus are known to have long waxy projections (Park & Yoon, 1993). I have seen three larvae fitting this description in the HSB courtyard (see middle photo), but not on the cycads! The larvae were all on the trunk of an Acacia tree, several metres away from the cycads. I have not seen larvae like this elsewhere.

New ladybird species in town. Left: adult Telsimia ladybird, centre: Telsimia larva, right: close up of adult Telsimia head.

New ladybird species in town. Left: adult Telsimia ladybird, centre: Telsimia larva, right: close up of adult Telsimia head.

Park, H.-C.; Yoon, I.-B. 1993: Telsimia nagasakiensis Miyatake, an unrecorded species (Coccinellidae, Coleoptera) from Korea, with larval description and biology. Korean journal of entomology, 23(4): 277-281.

Ślipiński, A.; Pang, H.; Pope, R.D. 2005: Revision of the Australian Coccinellidae (Coleoptera). Part 4. Tribe Telsimini. Annales zoologici, 55(2): 243-269  .

One thought on “A new Australian ladybird for New Zealand!

  1. Hi there Strphen!
    I was just looking for information regardind a small black beetle which you have identified as Telsimia subviridis. I found some in my Howick house when I was updating the upstairs bathroom. There was a maybe fifty or so crawling around in the cavity under the bath. This was in 2005 when the house was about 12 years old. I just ignored them, stuck the new bath in and finished the tiling to get the wife off my back. I had left a gap between the bath and the vanity caninet and for a while after the renovation I kept seeing the odd one in and around the bath, usually dead. After I sealed up this gap I hadn’t noticed them again. However, in the last week my good wife found a dead one in our bed (downstairs) and today I found two dead on the floor of the renovated upstairs bathroom. Maybe I should have nuked them when I first saw them 13 years ago? Do they do any damage and if so would an insect bomb do the job? What would they live on insude the house?
    Philip Archer


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