Observations & Analysis on the Asian lady Beetle, Japanese Maple Tree, and Common Greenshield Lichen from Kingsbororough Community College


During my visit to Kingsborough Community College, I observed three fascinating organisms: the Asian lady beetle, a Japanese maple tree, and common greenshield lichen. The Asian lady beetle, with its distinctive black coloration and yellow spots, highlighted the role of beneficial insects in controlling pest populations. The Japanese maple tree, with its vibrant red leaves and graceful form, showcased the beauty and cultural significance of diverse plant life. The common greenshield lichen, attached to a tree, illustrated the importance of symbiotic relationships in nature and the health of the surrounding environment. These observations enriched my understanding of the ecological balance and biodiversity present on campus.

Yasmine Sarafzadeh

During my visit to Kingsborough Community College, I observed three fascinating organisms: the Asian lady beetle, a Japanese maple tree, and common greenshield lichen. These encounters deepened my appreciation for the intricate balance of ecosystems, highlighting the beauty and ecological significance of insects, trees, and symbiotic organisms like lichens, which are composed of fungi and algae (or cyanobacteria). The link to the photos of my observations have been added below to view.

Analysis and Observations of the Asian Lady Beetle:

Appearance and Identification:
The Asian lady beetle, scientifically known as Harmonia axyridis, had a distinctive appearance characterized by its black coloration with yellow spots. This beetle can vary in color from yellow to red and may have a different number of spots, which makes it quite unique among lady beetles. One key identifying feature is the black “M” or “W” shape on its pronotum, the area just behind the head.

The beetle was active, moving across the foliage with ease. It seemed to be foraging, likely in search of aphids or other soft-bodied insects, which are its primary food source. This predatory behavior highlights its beneficial role in controlling pest populations. Asian lady beetles are known for their voracious appetites, which make them effective biological control agents in agricultural settings.

The beetle was found in a well-vegetated area of the campus, which provided an ideal habitat with plenty of prey and shelter. The environment at Kingsborough Community College, with its diverse plant life, seems to support a healthy population of these beetles. Harmonia axyridis is highly adaptable and can thrive in various habitats, from forests to urban gardens.

Life Cycle:
The Asian lady beetle goes through a complete metamorphosis, including egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. Females can lay hundreds of eggs, which hatch into larvae that voraciously consume aphids. This life cycle contributes not only to their effectiveness as pest control agents but also to their rapid population growth.

Environmental Impact:
While the Asian lady beetle is known for its pest control benefits, it is also considered an invasive species in some regions, including North America. Its introduction was initially intended to control agricultural pests, but it has since proliferated and sometimes outcompetes native lady beetle species. Additionally, they can become a nuisance when they seek shelter indoors during the fall. Their presence in large numbers can cause problems for homeowners, as they can leave stains and produce an unpleasant odor.

Personal Reflection:
Observing the Asian lady beetle up close at Kingsborough Community College was a fascinating experience. It reminded me of the delicate balance within ecosystems and the impact that a single species can have on its environment. The beetle’s presence in such a diverse setting also underscores the importance of maintaining biodiversity and being mindful of the species we introduce into new habitats.

Overall, this encounter has deepened my appreciation for the complexity of ecological interactions and the role that even small creatures play in maintaining the health of our ecosystems. The Asian lady beetle is a prime example of how beneficial species can also pose challenges, highlighting the importance of ecological balance and careful management of introduced species.

Analysis and Observations of the Japanese Maple Tree:

Appearance and Identification: The Japanese maple tree (Acer palmatum) is renowned for its elegant and delicate foliage. The tree I observed had finely divided leaves that were a vibrant red, adding a striking splash of color to the landscape. Japanese maples can vary greatly in appearance, with leaf colors ranging from green to deep purple and even variegated forms. The leaves typically have five to nine pointed lobes, giving them a distinct, hand-like shape.

Growth and Form: The Japanese maple tree at Kingsborough Community College exhibited a graceful and compact growth habit. It had a broad, spreading canopy with branches that created a layered, almost cascading effect. This tree species is known for its slow to moderate growth rate and can range from small shrubs to larger trees, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions.

Habitat and Environment: The tree was situated in a well-maintained garden area on the campus, benefiting from partial shade and well-drained soil. Japanese maples thrive in environments that provide protection from the harsh afternoon sun and strong winds. The location at Kingsborough Community College seemed ideal, as it provided the right balance of light, soil, and moisture for the tree to flourish.

Seasonal Changes: One of the most captivating features of the Japanese maple is its seasonal color changes. The tree I observed was in its spring or early summer phase, showcasing vibrant red leaves. In autumn, these trees are renowned for their spectacular fall colors, which can range from bright yellow and orange to deep crimson. This seasonal variation adds dynamic beauty to any landscape.

Cultural and Symbolic Significance: Japanese maples are highly valued in Japanese culture and are often used in traditional gardens and bonsai. They symbolize grace, elegance, and peacefulness. Observing the Japanese maple at Kingsborough Community College provided a moment of tranquility and connection to nature’s artistry.

Personal Reflection: Observing the Japanese maple tree up close was a delightful experience. Its intricate leaves and vibrant colors were a testament to the natural beauty that plants can bring to our surroundings. This tree’s presence on campus not only enhances its aesthetic appeal but also provides a serene and inviting atmosphere for students and visitors.

The Japanese maple’s adaptability and visual appeal make it a popular choice in gardens and landscapes around the world. Reflecting on its place at Kingsborough Community College, I was reminded of the importance of incorporating diverse plant species into our environments to create harmonious and sustainable ecosystems.

Analysis and Observations of the Common Greenshield Lichen:

Appearance and Identification: The common greenshield lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata) is easily identifiable by its foliose (leaf-like) structure and greenish-gray coloration. The lichen I observed had a somewhat rounded shape with lobed edges, resembling the texture of a leafy plant. The upper surface was smooth and greenish due to the presence of algal cells, while the lower surface was lighter and had root-like structures called rhizines that anchored it to the tree bark.

Habitat and Growth: The lichen was found growing on the bark of a tree in a shaded area of the campus. Common greenshield lichens typically thrive in environments with good air quality, as they are sensitive to air pollution. Their presence at Kingsborough Community College suggests that the air quality in the area is relatively clean. Lichens generally grow on a variety of surfaces, including tree bark, rocks, and soil, indicating their versatility and adaptability.

Symbiotic Relationship: Lichens are fascinating examples of symbiosis, consisting of a mutualistic relationship between a fungus and an alga (or cyanobacterium). The fungal partner provides structure and protection, while the algal partner photosynthesizes, producing food for both organisms. This mutualistic relationship allows lichens to survive in harsh environments where neither partner could thrive alone.

Ecological Role: Common greenshield lichens play several important roles in their ecosystems. They contribute to soil formation by breaking down rocks and organic matter, and they provide food and habitat for various small invertebrates. Additionally, lichens are bioindicators, meaning their presence and health can provide valuable information about environmental conditions, particularly air quality.

Growth on Trees: The lichen’s attachment to the tree bark indicates a healthy ecosystem, as trees provide an ideal substrate for lichen colonization. The tree provides a stable surface, while the lichen does not harm the tree; instead, it benefits from the nutrients and moisture found on the bark. The tree-lichen relationship is an excellent example of non-harmful coexistence in nature.

Personal Reflection: Observing the common greenshield lichen up close at Kingsborough Community College was a captivating experience. It highlighted the incredible diversity of life forms that often go unnoticed in our daily lives. This lichen’s presence on the campus underscores the importance of maintaining clean air and a healthy environment for all organisms.

The lichen’s ability to thrive on the tree also reminded me of the interconnectedness of all living things and the delicate balance within ecosystems. It was a humbling reminder of the resilience and adaptability of life, even in seemingly small and simple forms.

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