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Citrus whitefly ladybird - Serangium maculigerum

By N A Martin (2016, revised 2017)

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Click to collapse Classification Info





Serangium maculigerum Blackburn, 1892

Click to collapse Common names Info

Citrus whitefly ladybird

Click to collapse Synonyms Info

Serangium bicolour Blackburn, 1895

Click to collapse Biostatus and distribution Info

This adventive ladybird comes from Australia and was first found in New Zealand by Stephen Thorpe in Auckland Domain in 2005. It is present in Northland and Auckland, and spreading south. It feeds on several kinds of insects including of Australian citrus whitefly, Orchamoplatus citri (Takahashi, 1940) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae).

Conservation status: This small shiny black ladybird is present in Northern New Zealand and still spreading. It feeds on native insects as well as adventive species. It may be useful for biological control of Australian citrus whitefly.

Click to collapse Life stages and annual cycle Info

Annual cycle

There have not been any detailed observations of the annual cycle of this ladybird in New Zealand. Adults and larvae have been found with prey in late spring, and adults have been found with prey in summer. Like other ladybirds, the adults may overwinter and become active in the spring. There are likely to be several generations per year. In Auckland in late spring time from egg to adult is about 6-8 weeks.

Life stages

The adults are tiny, less than 3 millimetres long. The head, prothorax (first part of the middle body) and elytra (wing covers) are shiny black with a dull red spot on each elytra. The elytra, prothorax and head are covered with a few short hairs. The legs and antennae are pale brown, though the top segments of the middle and hind legs are dark brown. Under the elytra is a pair of wings used for flying. The small head has a pair of compound eyes and two short antennae. Female ladybirds lay eggs probably near infestations of prey. A long, pale grey larva hatches from each egg. They are covered with long fine hairs. The three pairs of legs are used for walking. They don’t appear to be used for holding prey. As the larva grows, it moults (changes skin). There are four larval instars (stages). When the fourth larval instar is fully grown, it attaches itself to a sheltered place on a plant and moults into a pupa. The white pupa remains partly inside the moulted larval skin and is itself covered with long fine hairs. Adults hatch from pupae and mate. The length of time of each life stage depends on temperature, being shorter at higher temperatures.

Walking and flying

Both adult and larval stages of this citrus whitefly ladybird have three pairs of legs that can be used for walking. Adults have wings and can fly. In warm weather, they fly readily if disturbed.


The adult and larval ladybirds eat psyllids, whitefly and probably other insects and gall mites. The jaws are the primarily structures used for holding and chewing the prey. Legs do not appear to be used for holding food.

Click to collapse Recognition Info

Adult citrus whitefly ladybirds are easily recognised; they very small, shining black and have two dull red spots on the elytra (wing covers). Larvae are tiny, pale grey and covered in dense, fine, long hairs. The pupae are also distinctive being white and covered in long fine hairs, and partly covered by the moulted larvae skin.

Click to collapse Natural enemies Info

No natural enemies of the citrus whitefly ladybird are known in New Zealand. They are probably preyed upon by birds, spiders and predatory insects.

Click to collapse Prey/hosts Info

Ladybirds in the genus Serangium are reported to be associated with whitefly (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae). In New Zealand the citrus whitefly ladybird has been found feeding on native and adventive species of whitefly including Australian citrus whitefly, Orchamoplatus citri (Takahashi, 1940). It has a much wider range of prey including two species of psyllid and a native soft scale (Coccidae). It appears to feed on gall mites though this needs to be confirmed. Several adults were found on tree leaves with numerous free living gall mites, Lambella cerina (Lamb, 1953) (Acari: Eriophyoidea: Diptilomiopidae) on Carpodetus serratus (Grossulariaceae). At present this ladybird has only been found on trees, shrubs and a tree fern.

In New Zealand it has been found breeding in association with peppercorn scale, Epelidochiton piperis (Hemiptera: Coccidae). While in Australia this ladybird has been recorded feeding on soft wax scale, Ceroplastes destructor Newstead, 1917, and Chinese wax scale, Ceroplastes sinensis Del, Guercio, 1900 (Coccidae).

Table: Prey of Citrus whitefly ladybird, Serangium maculigerum (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), from Plant-SyNZ database (28 July 2017). The reliability score shows the quality of evidence for the host association (0-10, 10=high quality).
Scientific NameCommon NameClassification Reliability IndexBiostatus
Aphenochiton sp. Hemiptera: Coccidae7endemic
Asterochiton simplex (Maskell, 1879)Simple whiteflyHemiptera: Aleyrodidae10endemic
Ctenarytaina sp. 'Acmena' of Dale 2011 Hemiptera: Psyllidae9adventive
Epelidochiton piperis (Maskell, 1882)Peppercorn scaleHemiptera: Coccidae10endemic
Eriococcus pallidus Maskell, 1885Karo felted scaleHemiptera: Eriococcidae9endemic
Orchamoplatus citri (Takahashi, 1940)Australian citrus whiteflyHemiptera: Aleyrodidae10adventive
Siphoninus phillyreae (Halliday, 1835)Ash whiteflyHemiptera: Aleyrodidae10adventive
Trialeurodes sp. 'squarrosa' of NA Martin 2010 Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae10endemic
Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood, 1856)Greenhouse whiteflyHemiptera: Aleyrodidae10adventive
Trioza vitreoradiata (Maskell, 1879)Pittosporum psyllidHemiptera: Triozidae10endemic

Click to collapse Additional information Info

Biological control of pests

Biological control of whitefly and other herbivorous pests can reduce the impact of the pests and the need to use insecticides. The citrus whitefly ladybird may contribute to the control of Australian citrus whitefly in the home garden and commercial crops. If pesticides are needed to control other pests, it is advisable to use chemicals that will have minimal harmful effects on the ladybirds or to use them at a time when the ladybirds are not present.

Diverse habits of 'ladybirds'

Not all ladybirds eat insects; some feed on mites. Other species eat plant leaves and are pests especially in some tropical countries, whereas other ladybirds feed on fungi. One of these, Illeis galbula (Mulsant, 1850) from Australia, feeds on powdery mildew fungi. In New Zealand it is common on pumpkins and other cucurbits, plants that are commonly infected by powdery mildews. A plant feeding ladybird, hadda beetle (Epilachna vigintioctopunctata (Fabricius, 1775)) recently established in Auckland feeds on plants in the Solanaceae (potato family).

Click to collapse Information sources Info

Slipinski A, Burckardt D 2006. Revision of the Australian Coccinellidae (Coccinellidae). Part 5. Tribe Serangiini. Annales Zoologici (Warszawa) 56(1): 37-58.

Slipinski A, Hastings A, Boyd B 2007. Ladybirds of Australia. Retrieved April 2011.

Waterhouse DF, Sands DPA 2001. Classical Biological Control of Arthropods in Australia. Canberra, CSIRO Entomology. 560 p.

Click to collapse Acknowledgements Info

The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited (Plant & Food Research) for permission to use photographs.

Click to collapse Other images Info

Click to collapse Update history Info

1 November 2018. NA Martin. Changed symbol used for apostrophes.

1 August 2017. NA Martin. Prey table updated. Biostatus paragraph corrected.

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