Coccinella novemnotata usually has nine spots, which gives it its name (novem- means nine in Latin), although there are spotless forms which may be confused with Coccinella johnsi. They are red, oval-shaped and range from 4.7 to 7.0 mm. They range in size (area of their elytra, which cover their wings) from 24.36 to 37.66 sq. mm. Coccinella novemnotata has a broad head with a pale band between its eyes. The front part of the pronotum (the section between the head and elytra) is also pale. The elytra have black spots that get smaller in size and in number until the back of the beetle. Coccinella novemnotata eggs are usually orange to bright yellow in color. Eggs that will not hatch shrivel and become dark brown or black within 2 to 3 days. (Gordon, 1985; Losey, et al., 2012)
Coccinella novemnotata, the nine-spotted lady beetle, used to be one of the most common ladybird beetle species in its range. It was found throughout the Nearctic region in the United States and southern Canada. However, its range has significantly decreased in recent years, especially in the United States. A survey in 2009 found only a few of these ladybird beetles in western and central United States. Another survey in 1993 found no Coccinella novemnotata in thirteen Northeastern states, though a single beetle was found in 2006 in Virginia, the first to be spotted in 14 years in the eastern states. (Gordon, 1985; Harmon, et al., 2007; Hesler, et al., 2009)
Coccinella novemnotata is found on agricultural land and lives on crops such as alfalfa, clover, corn, cotton, potatoes and soybeans. These beetles can also be found on a variety of other plants in wooded habitats, grasslands and suburban areas. A survey found that C. novemnotata is highly likely to be living in national parks, though the reason for this is unknown. (Gordon, 1985; Harmon, et al., 2007; Hesler, et al., 2009)
Coccinella novemnotata has complete metamorphosis and goes through egg, larva, pupa, and adult life stages. Larvae hatch from eggs after approximately four days. The larvae undergo four stages called instars. It takes an average of four to five days for Coccinella novemnotata to reach its third-instar. After approximately seven more days, the larvae spend one day in a pre-pupal stage where they stop eating and seem very slow and inactive. The larvae then pupate. After four days, adults emerge. After one day, the elytra on the adult Coccinella novemnotata harden. (Losey, et al., 2012)
There is no information about the mating systems of Coccinella novemnotata, but there is research that describes the mating systems of the very similar Coccinella septempunctata. Males of Coccinella septempunctata do a five step courtship display. They first approach a female, watch, then examine, mount and attempt to mate. Females who are not yet ready to mate, have recently mated, or are about to lay eggs, will reject the male. Males recognize female mates based on chemical and visual clues, such as size and female body shape. Males may mate several times in one day. It is possible that the mating habits of C. novemnotata are similar to those of C. septempunctata. (Omkar and Srivastava, 2002; Srivastava and Omkar, 2004)
There is little information about the general mating behavior of Coccinella novemnotata. It is known that C. novemnotata is ready to mate 2 to 4 days after it becomes an adult. Adults breed continuously during a several week period in the summer that happens before going into hiding for the winter. (Losey, et al., 2012)
There is little information available about this topic for C. novemnotata, though it is known that it takes about 20 days for C. novemnotata to develop from an egg to an adult. Adults then live for several weeks during the summer, and the adults that are still alive at the end of summer go into hiding for the winter. (Losey, et al., 2012)
Coccinella novemnotata is a predator of many species of aphids. It is a mobile insect that hunts its prey. Coccinella novemnotata crawls or flies. It is mainly active during the day. There is little known about the social behavior of Coccinella novemnotata, most likely because there are so few of these beetles found in North America today. (Gordon, 1985)
There is no information about how Coccinella novemnotata communicates and views its environment, but it is likely similar to other Coccinellidae that rely on sight and chemical detection to find mates and prey. (Omkar and Srivastava, 2002; Srivastava and Omkar, 2004)
Coccinella novemnotata is an insectivore. It eats aphids, which are small insects that feed on plants. They prey on many different species of aphids, including pea aphids, green peach aphids, and cheery-oat aphids. They will also eat spider mites, alfalfa weevils, the nymphs of leafhoppers, and the eggs of butterflies and moths. (Hesler, et al., 2012; Losey, et al., 2012; Wheeler and Hoebeke, 1995)
Other species of lady beetle often eat Coccinella novemnotata. Coccinella transversoguttata, another species of lady beetle, is known to prey on C. novemnotata. In populations that were born and raised in laboratories, it has been observed that adults and larvae of C. novemnotata will cannibalize eggs and pupae of its own species, while large larvae will eat smaller larvae. As a species of Coccinellidae, it is likely that C. novemnotata can produce toxic chemicals from its joints (called reflex bleeding) when threatened by a predator. The bright red color of these beetles acts as a warning signal to predators. Predators often known that brightly colored insects are poisonous, and are less likely to attack them. (Gordon, 1985; Hesler, et al., 2012; Losey, et al., 2012)
Coccinella novemnotata eats many species of aphids, as well as spider mites, alfalfa weevils, leafhopper nymphs, and butterfly and moths eggs. The population of C. novemnotata has decreased recently in North America. This is thought to be caused by competition for food (aphids) between C. novemnotata and other species, such as Coccinella septempunctata. Coccinella septempunctata is an invasive species, and is likely pushing C. novemnotata out of its habitat. The body size of C. novemnotata is effected by the amount of food available. In the past few years, the average body size of C. novemnotata has decreased, which shows that individuals of C. novemnotata are not getting enough food. The population of C. novemnotata may also have decreased because of climate change, as well as changes in farm land (their food, aphids, are usually very common on crops on farmland). Coccinella novemnotata is considered to be a natural enemy of Ostrina nubilalis, the European corn borer. The wasp Perilitus coccinellae is known to be a parasite of C. novemnotata adults. (Losey, et al., 2012; Wheeler and Hoebeke, 1995)
There are no known negative effects of Coccinella novemnotata on humans.
In 1914 in Connecticut and 1930 in Minnesota, Coccinella novemnotata was ranked as one of the lady beetles with the greatest economic importance. Since it eats large numbers of aphids, which often damage crops, it could control aphid populations and stop damage to crops. However, since that time, the population of C. novemnotata has significantly decreased, and the importance of this species has been reduced. (Britton, 1914; Stehr, 1930)
Coccinella novemnotata is not currently an endangered species, but due to the large decrease in population size across the United States, C. novemnotata is a likely candidate for future conservation efforts to prevent its extinction. (Harmon, et al., 2007)
In 2000, Cornell University started The Lost Ladybug Project, which uses images of ladybugs taken by citizens to identify lady beetles from across the country. This project has provided much information of the location of many lady beetle species, and has helped determined that there still are a few Coccinella novemnotata in the western United States. ("The Lost Ladybug Project", 2013; Losey, et al., 2012)
Deeana Ijaz (author), University of Michigan Biological Station, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.
2013. "The Lost Ladybug Project" (On-line). Accessed March 27, 2013 at http://www.lostladybug.org/.
Britton, W. 1914. Some common lady beetles of Connecticut. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin, 181: 1-24.
Hesler, L., M. Catangui, J. Losey, J. Helbig, A. Mesman. 2009. Recent Records of Adalia bipunctata (L.), Coccinella transversoguttata richardsoni Brown, and Coccinella novemnotata Herbst (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) from South Dakota and Nebraska. The Coleopterists Bulletin, 64/4: 475-484.
Hesler, L., G. McNickle, M. Catangui, J. Losey, E. Beckendorf, L. Stellwag, D. Brandt, P. Bartlett. 2012. Method for Continuously Rearing Coccinella Lady Beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). The Open Entomology Journal, 6: 42-48.
Hudon, M. 1959. First Record of Perilitus coccinellae (Schrank) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) as a Parasite of Coccinella novemnotata Hbst. and Coleomegilla maculata lengi Timb. (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in Canada. The Canadian Entomologist, 91/1: 63-64.
Losey, J., J. Perlman, E. Hoebeke. 2007. Citizen scientist rediscovers rare nine-spotted lady beetle, Coccinella novemnotata, in eastern North America. Journal of Insect Conservation, 11/4: 415-417.
Losey, J., J. Perlman, J. Kopco, S. Ramsey, L. Hesler, E. Evans, L. Allee, R. Smyth. 2012. Potential causes and consequences of decreased body size in field populations of Coccinella novemnotata. Biological Control, 61: 98-103.
Srivastava, S., Omkar. 2004. Age-specific mating and reproductive senescence in the seven-spotted ladybird, Coccinella septempunctata. Journal of Applied Entomology, 128: 452-458.
Stehr, W. 1930. The Coccinellidae (ladybird beetles) of Minnesota. University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin, 75: 1-54.
Wheeler, A., E. Hoebeke. 1995. Coccinella novemnotata in Northeastern North America: historical occurrence and current status (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Proceeding of the Entomological Society of Washington, 97: 701-716.