5,000 Different Species of Ladybugs

Did you know that “there are about 5,000 different species of ladybugs in the world? These much-loved critters are also known as lady beetles or ladybird beetles. They come in many different colors and patterns, but the most familiar in North America is the seven-spotted ladybug, with its shiny, red-and-black body. In many cultures, ladybugs are considered good luck.  Most people like them because they are pretty, graceful, and harmless to humans. But farmers love them because they eat aphids and other plant-eating pests. One ladybug can eat up to 5,000 insects in its lifetime,” reports National Geographic Kids.  

Name

National Geographic says that “the name “ladybug” was coined by European farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary when pests began eating their crops. After ladybugs came and wiped out the invading insects, the farmers named them “beetle of Our Lady.” This eventually was shortened to “lady beetle” and “ladybug.” NASA even sent a few ladybugs into space with aphids to see how aphids would escape in zero gravity”.

Body

Most ladybugs have oval, dome-shaped bodies with six short legs. Depending on the species, they can have spots, stripes, or no markings at all. Seven-spotted ladybugs are red or orange with three spots on each side and one in the middle. They have a black head with white patches on either side.

Habitat

Ladybugs can thrive in many different habitats, including grasslands, forests, cities, suburbs, and along rivers. Seven-spotted ladybugs are native to Europe. To control the aphid population, they were brought to North America in the mid-1900s. From Spring to Fall, Ladybugs are the most active. When the weather turns cold, they look for a warm, secluded place to hibernate, such as under rocks, in rotting logs, or even inside houses. These hibernating colonies can house thousands of ladybugs.

“Ladybugs, the most commonly known of all beneficial insects, are not only effective but are economically important. They are gathered from their natural habitat in the California Sierra Mountain foothills. They feed on many different soft bodied insects with aphids being their main food source. During the larval period the ladybug resembles a tiny, black, six-legged alligator with orange spots. As a larva it will gorge on about 400 aphids. After 3 or 4 weeks it attaches to a leaf or twig and enters the pupal stage. In another week the pupal skin splits and a hungry young adult emerges to eat another 5,000 aphids. Up to 1,500 tiny yellow eggs may be deposited in clusters of 10 to 50 in just a few weeks. In good years several generations may be produced. The ladybug’s huge appetite and reproductive capacity allow it to rapidly clean out its prey,” reports A-1 Unique Insect.

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