A Ladybug is probably the only bug we don't consider a real pest. However, ladybugs are not bugs; they are beetles. Also, there are male and female ladybugs, so why are they called ladies?
Hemiptera is the order to which a "true bug" belongs. Insects belonging to this order include cicadas and bedbugs. The Ladybug belongs to the beetle order called the Coleoptera.
Spring is in the Air
Besides warmer temperatures, one sure sign spring is in the air is when we see a ladybug's tiny, speckled, red dome. Typically, you will see the ladybug on a plant leaf, looking for aphids to eat.
These tiny bugs insects belong to the beetle group called lady beetles or ladybird beetles. The ladybug is a nickname for a lady beetle. Many consider the ladybug a symbol of good luck and present no threat to humans. Lady beetles are a favorite of all the bugs crawling outside.
Characteristics of Ladybird beetles
Adult ladybugs may have orange, yellow, pink, black, or red bodies. Their bodies are convex, hemispherical to oval-shaped. Ladybugs feed on prolific plant pests and other insects.
A description of adult lady beetles is they are small, with a rounded body shape. We are used to seeing lady beetles with small black spots on their wing covers. However, some are completely black. Ladybugs also have antennae, a head, and black legs.
The antennae, compound eyes, and mouthparts are what the head is comprised of. Next, there are a couple of pairs of wings and three sets of legs on the thorax. The hardened elytra are the first set of wings--these wings guard the delicate flight wings underneath.
How long does the adult ladybug live?
When bugs in winter, such as ladybugs, gather, go into hibernation or diapause. During this period, females and males save available resources and begin reproduction. Ladybug eggs are oval-shaped, whitish or yellow, and laid in clusters.
Ladybugs live for as many as nine months off the reserves they store away. Once temperatures warm up to 55 degrees Fahrenheit (or 13 degrees Celsius), they come out of diapause. A time when their food supplies once again are available.
Here are some interesting facts about the lady beetle
The ladybug beetle is an interesting little beetle; below are five of the most interesting facts about ladybugs. An interesting fact about ladybugs is if you scare one, their leg joints seep bad-scented hemolymph that leaves yellow stains on the area beneath them.
The first and most interesting of the facts about ladybugs we discovered is where the name originates from.
The seven-spotted lady beetle gets her name from the Virgin Mary. It all began in the Middle Ages, according to legend. Pests ravaged the crops, and resources to eradicate them depleted. The farmers began praying and suddenly saw ladybugs appear in the crop fields.
Miraculously, with the arrival of these tiny insects, the bad pests were removed, and the crops were saved! The farmers nicknamed the red and black beetles 'lady beetles'. They were also called Marienkafer--meaning Mary beetles in Germany.
It is also believed this tiny beetle with seven spots has been given the name as a representation of the Virgin Mary. The red coloring is her cloak, and the black spots show her sadness.
The bright colors of a ladybug keep would-be predators at bay.
Like other insects, lady beetles need a way to guard against dangerous predators and insect-eating birds. They achieve this with their bright coloring. It warns possible predators that messing with them would be toxic. Animals and birds that eat insects have learned to avoid anything red and black, averting the lady beetles.
Another way of warding off predators by ladybug larvae is when they make alkaloids ooze out of their bodies. It gives the appearance of a seemingly sickly beetle, which predators detest. Doing this prevents these predators from attempting a ladybug lunch!
It can eat as many as 5,000 aphids in a ladybug's lifetime!
The lady beetles diet consists primarily of insects with soft bodies. Therefore, making them a beneficial insect against pests that harm your garden. Lady beetles enjoy eating mites, scale insects, fruit flies, and especially those pesky aphids!
Ladybug larvae can consume hundreds of these garden pests. The ladybug larvae will connect to a plant leaf to eat the aphids. A hungry adult ladybug can reduce the aphid population by as much as 50 a day! Not all ladybugs are carnivores, but gardeners relish ladybugs consuming the most prolific plant pests.
The bumpy skin and long bodies of ladybug larvae look like a tiny alligators.
You would never believe the way ladybug larvae start out that they become such cute beetles. Appearing much like a tiny alligator, with elongated, pointed abdomens, legs sticking out the sides, and spiny bodies.
For approximately one month, these odd creatures grow and eat. During this larval stage, they may eat hundreds of insects or aphids.
The lady beetles purposely lay eggs that are infertile and fertile!
One might wonder why a lady beetle would take the time and energy to create non-yielding eggs. Yet, scientists divulge these infertile eggs as food sources larvae feed on until the eggs hatch.
During rough times ladybugs practice cannibalism using these infertile eggs to ensure the young ladybugs have a better survival rate. Newly hatched larvae or recently molted larvae are soft enough for the average ladybug to chew.
Another interesting fact about ladybugs is the experiment performed by placing a jar of aphids and four ladybugs on the space shuttle. This experiment proved ladybugs could catch prey in zero gravity.
What are the different Ladybugs?
The Coccinellidae Family to which the ladybug belongs has over 5,000 species. Each of these species can vary in size, from the smallest 0.8 cm to 1.8 cm. Seven spotted ladybugs were brought into North America from Europe during the mid-1900s.
Of all the various ladybug species, we have listed below some of the most popular kinds of ladybug beetle.
The Blue Ladybug
The Blue Lady beetle is an Australian native and was brought into New Zealand to maintain the black and gum tree scale. A Blue or Steel blue lady beetle shares many characteristics with its cousin, the red ladybug. The only difference is that this species lacks black spots, a trademark of the lady beetle.
The Orange or Asian lady beetle
Originally from Asian countries, such as Korea, Japan, and China, these lady beetle species are identified by the familiar blackspots and their coloring. The Orange or Asian lady beetle has recently entered the United States. Another name for the Asian bug is the harlequin ladybug (Harmonia axyridis).
The Asian lady beetle does have a trait unlike other species, and that is they are aggressive. Although not venomous to humans, these beetles are known to bite when feeling threatened. Allergic reactions can result from the bite of an Asian lady beetle. If a dog or cat accidentally eats one, its mouth or digestive tract may become irritated.
Yellow Lady beetle
The yellow lady beetles are good in the garden and beneficial insects because they eat soft-bodied insects like aphids. It can be difficult to recognize a cucumber beetle from the yellow ladybug. Each has spots and similar coloring. However, the cucumber beetle will destroy a garden by spreading disease and consuming the plants.
These beetles are native to Mexico, Canada, and North America, just as the red-colored species of ladybugs. Even though rarely discovered on plants, some call the yellow ladybugs Alfalfa Lady beetles.
Other destructive beetles
Some beetles, such as the squash beetle and the Mexican bean beetle, are destructive to gardens. These pests might appear to be ladybugs with similar coloring, spots, and round or oval bodies. However, the Mexican bean beetle has shorter antennae and legs. The squash beetle and Mexican bean beetle prey on the crops for which they get their name.
Getting rid of destructive beetles
Set your browser and internet device to search for how to get rid of aphids and insects. You will find that ladybugs love to eat aphids. These beneficial ladybugs also eat scale insects. It is a fact that a hungry ladybug can devour more than 50 aphids in a single day.
When it's time to call a professional
If you notice a sudden increase in the seven spotted lady beetle population around your garden, call A.N.T. Pest Control. We understand the importance of ladybugs to your garden and know which ones are destructive beetles. When the destructive beetles are overcoming your garden, call A.N.T. Pest control.