by Stephen Thorpe (email@example.com)
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.
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 .