Coccinella miranda - Larva
Some six years ago (or some such - around 2013-14 probably) I was browsing the internet to find images of Green Lacewings found on the Canary Islands (a project with results later published in a paper by Mendes) and stumbled on an image of a ladybird larva taken on Gran Canaria (Sardina), that I just couldn't get my head around.
The old discussion is here on Flickr:
Note that I have notified the author that this is indeed Coccinella miranda and NOT Coccinella algerica, as listed currently.
You may imagine my total exhilaration when I found this 'exact same' larve at a "mirador" in the clouds up in the mountains of La Palma (no view to enjoy, so what better to do than look for little critters :o)
Even though I found it on the same herb together with a few Coccinella miranda adults I could still not quite believe that this would be a Coccinella larva (all the Coccinella larvae I know really have a completely different colour scheme), so this one just HAD to be taken home and reared to adult to finally solve my old puzzle.
Well, what can I say ... I took it, fed it ... and it died on me .. :o((
Rearing Ladybird larvae often isn't as trivial as one might think. Some species are quite picky about the exact food they will thrive on and some species of Aphids can be downright "poisonous" to them, or to some extent their intestine flora can even depend on the continuation of a diet that they were "started on". Whatever the reason, it sucked - big time :-|
The specimen was stored in alcohol of course for future reference, but I was very dismayed that my "mystery larva" would still remain a puzzle.
However, to my total relieve some eggs that were deposited by a female Coccinella miranda hatched about a week later and whad'ya know ... unmistakably the same! :o)
This is really quite remarkable in itself, as the first instar larvae of all other species of Coccinella that I know - to me - are totally indistinguishable, while being all black little blobs with very very similar hairs/brushes. But (like I said before) this one is VERY different! Just by the colours of the head (yellow with a black cranium) it is already clearly set off, but even in the tiny first instar some of the white stripes on the body can already be recognized. There is now no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the mystery larva on Flickr, photographed by David Marquina Reyes, and this here larva I found on La Palma are indeed Coccinella miranda(!)
That alone is a stunning conclusion too, as the larva is _so_ totally different from all other Coccinella larvae (at least those known to me)!
Coccinella miranda is often quoted as "a tad different" from other Coccinella spp. and is placed in a small subgenus Coccinella (Spilota), together with the much more wide spread Coccinella undecimpunctata, but even that one has the "usual" appearance of other Coccinella larvae (all blueish-black body with orange brushes at least on ab.seg.1 laterally and dorso-lateral):
To me this may even warrant further investigation into the proper placement of Coccinella miranda, but that will take some time. The larva stored on alcohol will be helpful for that however.
So, here are - to my knowledge - the first properly named images of Coccinella miranda larvae available on the internet :o)
Coccinella miranda is a ladybird beetle in the subgenus Spilota of the genus Coccinella and as such most closely related to the continental European Coccinella undecimpunctata.