The corn patch was quite the social gathering place yesterday evening, and our attention was drawn in particular to two ladies we don't see very often.
The first was the black form of the Ashy Gray Ladybug, glossy black with two almost-square crimson patches. An extremely decorative bug (right).
The second, just two corn stalks to the Northwest, was the regular form of the Ashy Gray Ladybug, gray with a pattern of black spots (below). The name "Ashy Gray" makes a lot more sense with this one.
I tend to think of ladybugs as red with black spots, and I suspect most people do, but ladybugs actually come in quite a variety of colors and spot patterns. No matter what color they are, they are all voracious consumers of aphids, white flies and other garden pests. Their larvae, which look like tiny Gila Monsters, eat even more.
The corn has also been very popular this year with Green Lacewings, whose larvae rival the ladybugs' in lunching on pests. I noticed a slight development of aphids on the corn a few weeks ago, but their population declined very rapidly, so all of the beneficial insects must be doing their job. The aphids that didn't get eaten, I squished.Tyler