Critters Gardening Top Photos

Baby Pirates

Cryptolaemus larva

Since introducing Cryptolaemus and Leptomastix to my conservatory three weeks ago I have been fretting constantly. The problem is that after releasing 9 of the former and about 50 of the latter into the room, they dispersed rapidly, and I didn’t really see much of them after that. I was worried that they had all disappeared entirely, either by finding a fissure somewhere that leads to the outside world, or at the hands of some unknown predator (eg a spider).

You can imagine my elation this morning when I spotted three or four of these creatures meandering amongst the mealybugs. A quick google confirmed my suspicion – they are Crypto babies!

Critters Gardening

Pirates and Ninjas


*Cryptolaemus* are hefty, slow, but unstoppably brutal. They devour mealybugs in vast quantities, plowing through dense egg masses like tanks. Each individual may consume up to 250 mealybugs during its 2-3 week larval stage, and each adult female may lay up to 400 eggs in her lifetime. Do the Maths yourself.

*Cryptolaemus* are cool for the same reasons that pirates are cool.


*Leptomastix* are small, nimble, and move faster than the eye can see. The female pounces upon the fully-grown mealybug, delivering an attack that will irreversibly lead to a slow, agonising death, before disappearing into the night without a trace. Within two weeks, up to 100 mealybugs will be the victim of this fearful assassin. No matter where her enemies hide, she will find them.

And what is this mysterious poison that she uses? *Her own offspring*, who will devour her target from the inside out.

*Leptomastix* are cool for the same reason that ninjas are cool.