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Convergent Ladybird Beetle (Hippodamia convergens)
convergent ladybird beetle

DESCRIPTION: L=0.25" (6mm). Forewings are orange with many to no black spots. Thorax is black with converging white lines (thus the name).
NATURAL HISTORY: Both adults and larvae feed on aphids; therefore, ladybird beetles are considered beneficial to humans. Adults spend roughly May-January in the mountains, then mate Jan.-Feb., and fly down to the valleys to lay their eggs and die. The eggs hatch, and the larvae go on a feeding frenzy eating aphids until undergo complete metamorphosis into adults and fly back up to the mountains. In the mountains, the adults often congregate in huge masses as seen in the bottom photo.
Click on thumbnails below for more images:

with aphids close-up on grass