There are roughly 5,000 species of ladybugs in the world, 400 in North America alone. Ladybugs are a beetle and sometimes called lady beetles or ladybird beetles.
Depending on the species ladybugs can have spots, stripes or no markings at all.
The most common ladybug is the seven-spotted ladybug which is usually red or orange with three spot on each side and one in the middle.
Ladybugs taste terrible, just in case you were going to try and eat one. Their bright markings warn off predators. When threatened, ladybugs secrete a foul-tasting oily solution from joints in their legs. Still want to try one?
Ladybugs live just about anywhere from farmlands, urban areas, grasslands, and along rivers and are most active from spring until fall.
When the weather turns cold they hibernate in huge colonies.
Ladybugs can survive 9 months off of their stored reserves.
Why do you need ladybugs in your garden?
They are hungry for aphids, fruit flies, mites and other plant-sucking insects.
Ladybugs lay their eggs in rows on the undersides of leaves, usually where aphids are found.
When the larvae hatch they gobble 350 – 400 aphids in a two week period. Once the ladybug reaches the pupa stage (adult beetle) they can eat up to 75 aphids per day. Yummy!
Ladybug Fast Facts:
Ladybugs in flight beat their wings 85 times per second
Ladybugs breath through openings in the sides of their bodies
A female ladybug will lay up to 2,000 eggs
As ladybugs age their spots begin to fade
Ladybugs can be purchased at garden departments at most Ace Hardware stores.
Buy a pack and release them at night, when the temperatures are cooler, they’ll stick around your garden.
The Lost Ladybug Project website along with recording the changing ladybug species in North America, has a wonderful guide to identifying ladybugs. Here’s a quote from their web-site.
“Across North America ladybug species distribution is changing. Over the past twenty years several native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare. During this same time ladybugs from other places have greatly increased both their numbers and range. Some ladybugs are simply found in new places. This is happening very quickly and we don’t know how, or why, or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity or the role that ladybugs play in keeping plant-feeding insect populations low. We’re asking you to join us in finding out where all the ladybugs have gone so we can try to prevent more native species from becoming so rare.”
Want more info about ladybugs?
San Diego Zoo
Lost Lady Bug Project
Kids National Geographic