Nine-spotted lady beetle was designated New York state's official insect in 1989.
This species was once considered common throughout the state. As of 2013, there is one known occurrence in New York State on an organic farm on Long Island. The decline went largely unnoticed until the 1980s.
The Lost Ladybug Project reported a single known location in New York with 21 nine-spotted lady beetles from an organic farm in Amagansett in 2011 (Cornell University 2013). Prior to this discovery, it was assumed to be likely extirpated from the state.
Coccinella novemnotata was once considered the most common lady beetle in the state. There were small studies in the last 100 years that give some indications of the population status. In 1924, a study in Ithaca found that C. novemnotata made up 13% of the Coccinellidae. Another study in 1971 shows a decline with a maximum of one C. novemnotata per 100 stems counted (weekly). Another study on Long Island from 1956-1958 found C. novemnotata represented 19% of the Coccinellidae population in a potato crop. The decline went largely unnoticed until the 1980s.
Agricultural land has been declining in New York since the 1880s resulting is less suitable habitat for many lady beetle species. Between 1940 and 1997, there was a 57% decline in farmed land in New York (Harmon et al. 2007). It appears that competition with other aphid-eating insects, such as the non-native Coccinella septempunctata (seven-spotted lady beetle), may be leading to smaller nine-spotted lady beetles. This may result in higher mortality and lower fecundity (Losey et al. 2012, Cornell University 2013). Losey et al. (2012) found that simply limiting the number of aphids has a significant effect on the C. novemnotata size. C. novemnotata appears to be sensitive to pesticide use (Stephens and Losey 2003).
Preservation of farmland would maintain or increase suitable open habitat. Pesticide use should be avoided when possible. If pesticide use cannot be avoided: use chemicals that target only the pest, treat only infested areas, and select chemicals that do not persist.
Additional research is needed to determine the effects of competition with other coccinellids. Further studies on lab rearing and reintroduction are needed.
The preferred habitat is open landscape such as grasslands and agricultural land. Preferred agricultural crops include: alfalfa, clover, corn, potatoes, and soybeans. Suburban areas and wooded habitats have also been reported as suitable habitat (Cornell University 2013).
Historically, this species occurred throughout the state. The current distribution is restricted to one site on Long Island.
Historically, this species ranged across the United States and through southern Canada. Recent surveys have found one site in the Northeast. It was last collected in 2006 in Virginia. There are localized populations in the midwest and west. It's also known from Mexico, Guatemala and possibly Cuba (NatureServe 2015).
Coccinella novemnotata is a small, oval-shaped insect that ranges from 4.7 to 7mm as a mature adult. The head is broad with a pale spot between the eyes. Key characteristics for identifying C. novemnotata (also known as C-9) include a large ventral pale trapezoidal spot that extends posteriorly as far as the dorsal spot. The elytra have black spots that get smaller in size and in number until the scutellar spot. Typically, there are a total of nine spots, but the number can vary. Sexes are similar.
The best life stage for identification is adult.
The primary diet is soft-bodied insects. Pollen is also eaten.
The best time to look for lady beetles is early summer when it isn't too dry. The best places to look include old fields and agricultural land that has not been recently treated with pesticides.
The time of year you would expect to find Nine-spotted Lady Beetle present and active in New York.
Nine-spotted Lady Beetle
Coccinella novemnotata Herbst, 1793
Arnett, Jr., Ross H., ed. 1983. Checklist of the Beetles of North and Central America and the West Indies. Flora and Fauna Publications, Gainesville, Florida. 24 P. (Pertains to all subsequent fasicle updates as well).
Cornell University. 2013. “The Lost Ladybug Project.” www.lostladybug.org. (date accessed: December 29, 2013).
Harmon, J.P., E. Stephens, and J. Losey. 2007. The decline of native coccinellids (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in the United States and Canada. Journal of Insect Conservation. 11: 85-94.
Hessler, Louis S., Ginger McNickle, Michael A. Catangui, John E. Losey, Eric A. Beckendorf, Leonard Stellwag, Danielle M. Brandt, and Pamela B. Bartlett. 2012. Method for continuously rearing Coccinella lady beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). The Open Entomology Journal 6:42-48.
Ijaz, D. 2013. "Coccinella novemnotata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed December 29, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Coccinella_novemnotata/
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.
NatureServe. 2015. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://www.natureserve.org/explorer.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2021. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Stephens, Erin and John Losey. 2003. The decline of C-9- New York State’s insect. The Xerces Society. Wings: Essays on Invertebrate Conservation. Fall 2003 pp. 8-12.
The Xerces Society. 2013. “Ladybird beetles: nine-spotted lady beetle (Coccinella novemnotata).” the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. http://www.xerces.org/nin-spot-ladybird-beetle/ (date accessed: December 29, 2013).
This guide was authored by: Hollie Y. Shaw
Information for this guide was last updated on: March 30, 2015
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2021. Online Conservation Guide for Coccinella novemnotata. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/nine-spotted-lady-beetle/. Accessed January 23, 2021.