Ladybugs are not only cute and adorable little creatures, but they’re also a great ally to the farmers as they feed on aphids or scale insects which are pests in gardens, orchards and fields. They are usually come in bright red, yellow, orange or scarlet colored with black spots that make them identifiable easily. Some of the interesting facts about these cute little guys are:
#1- They aren’t bugs-
Lady Bugs not bugs? Nope they aren’t. They’re Beetles. Bugs usually belong to the order Hemiptera, which includes familiar insects like bedbugs. Ladybugs are a part of Coleoptera, which is the beetle order. They’re called as “Lady Beetles” or Coccinedllids by many entomologist.
#2- Those bright colors are a warning sign-
Predators beware. Ladybugs’ bright colors are a sign of toxicity which is used as a defense mechanism from being eaten, as if they’re telling their hunters- “Do not eat me. I will make you sick”.
#3- Some eggs are snacks-
No, they ain’t snacks for the predators or for someone else for that matter. Ladybug moms lay a cluster of eggs on a plant and some of those eggs lack embryos. These are a tasty gift to none other than the baby ladybugs once they hatch. The baby ladybugs gobble them up as their first food.
#4- Ladybugs sometimes practice Cannibalism-
From the previous point we knew they eat embryo-less eggs when they hatch, but when food is scarce an adult ladybug will do what it has to survive and eat another ladybug. Commonly they go for soft-bodied sibling (newly emerged adults or recently molted larvae).
#5- Not everybody loved the ladybug-
Wine makers are not huge fans of the ladybug (especially harlequin ladybugs) as sometimes due to other fields being harvested ladybugs move around in search of food in nearby grape fields. While harvesting the grapes some of these guys may be scooped and when scared ladybugs squirt out a particularly smelly fluid which makes the stinky. Cheers!!!
#6- They eat a lot-
Contrary to their size ladybugs eat a lot of aphids, 5000 to be precise in their lifetime. Food habits differ according to different species of ladybugs. Some of them are unwelcome pests themselves.
#7- Ladybugs survive winters-
Ladybugs in colder climate enter diapause, this is insect hibernation. When the aphids begin to disappear they realize that winter is coming and reproduce before going into hibernation. This can last up-to nine months where the ladybugs survive only on their fat reserve and come out during spring when insects become plentiful.
#8- Ladybugs can be voracious predators-
These adorable creatures are universally beloved for their pest controlling nature. But as mentioned above in one of the points, they have a huge appetite. Some of them like the Orange beetle eat plant pests while the Mexican beetle dine on beans whereas the squash beetle feasts on squash, cantaloupe and pumpkin.
#9- The Virgin Mary connection-
Why are Ladybugs called so when there are both male and female sexes? That’s because they are named after one particular lady- “The Virgin Mary”. There are many stories as to why they’re named after Mother Mary, one of them being- In Europe the most common ladybug is the seven spotted one, which reminded people of Virgin Mary’s seven sorrows.
#10- Is that an Alligator? is that an Alien? No its a Ladybug larvae-
Ladybug larvae if unfamiliar usually resemble an alligator or sometimes even like one of the Alien species which we have come across in many movies.