Five Types of Ladybugs to Watch For This Springadmin
Did you know that ladybugs are comprised of approximately 5,000 different species? Beloved by kids and kids-at-heart alike, these fascinating insects have mesmerized generations of humans with their bright, colorful patterns, their association with luck, and their seemingly gentle countenance. Known scientifically as Coccinellidae, ladybugs are graceful (yet voracious) eaters who consume aphids and other pests known for ruining crops and plants. A single ladybug has been known to eat up to 5,000 insects over the course of its relatively short lifetime.
Like most insects, ladybugs begin life in the larval stage, emerging from their eggs only a few days after they’ve been laid. They spend very little time in this stage, growing quickly and shedding skin multiple times over the period of about a month. They then enter the pupa stage for a week or so before transforming into their final stage: An adult ladybug! These remarkable insects can be found throughout North America, but they are actually native to Europe. Indeed, they were intentionally brought to the U.S. in the mid-20th-century to help control the local aphid population.
Here are five types of ladybugs you can keep your eye out for during periods of warmer weather.
#5 – The Convergent Ladybug
Known scientifically as Hippodamia convergens, the insect commonly known as the convergent ladybug (or lady beetle) is the most common form of this vibrant species. If you happen upon a ladybug in your garden or sitting atop your car one day, the chances are good that this is the one you’re seeing. Colored yellow or orange with black spots throughout, the convergent ladybug is an avid fan of aphids, like most insects of this family.
Fun Fact: Ladybugs love to eat insects. While they prefer aphids, they are not averse to eating bugs of other species…including their own!
#4 – The Asian Ladybug
One of the most diverse ladybugs in terms of coloring, the Asian ladybird comes in yellow, red, orange, and even black varieties. Despite its name, this ladybug is most often found in North America – though the insects also have a thriving population in the United Kingdom. Known by its Latin name Harmonia axyridis, the Asian ladybug typically has a white patch across its head overlaid by black markings in the form of an M.
Fun Fact: Ladybugs use their bright colors – so fetching and attractive to human observers – to scare off predators such as birds. Bright colors in the wild are often used to indicate a creature’s venomous status, but the ladybug has no such defenses.
#3 – The Seven-Spotted Ladybug
Europeans are probably most familiar with this species of ladybug, known as coccinella septempuncata in scientific circles. With bright red coloring dotted with three black spots per wing (and a seventh that covers both elytra), this ladybug is sometimes called the “C-7” for short. Aphids run from this ladybug in terror; they are such voracious eaters that they have become the insect’s most deadly predator in Europe.
Fun Fact: Ladybugs get the majority of their nutrition from bugs, but they have been known to eat plants and grass as well, making them true omnivores of the insect kingdom.
#2 – The Thirteen-Spotted Ladybug
Well, after our encounter with the C-7 above, you probably don’t need to wonder how the Hippodamia tredececimpunctata got its more common name, the thirteen-spotted ladybug. That’s right, its red (or orange) base coloring is covered in thirteen dark spots. While some have more or less than a perfect 13 markings, enough of them fit into this category to earn them the name. While other ladybug species will typically lay a maximum of 30 eggs at a time, the 13-spotted variety will sometimes lay as many as 50 at a single go.
Fun Fact: The ladybug lives to the ripe old age of 2 to 3 years in the wild, although they can live longer when kept in controlled settings.
#1 – The Pink Ladybug
Known by entomologists as the Coleomegilla maculate, the pink spotted ladybug is one of the most striking examples of the family. With a pink hue in most varieties (sometimes full red, however), this species is usually found with a variety of black spots throughout the body. What sets these ladybugs apart, aside from their coloring, is the fact that they dine as often on plant pollen as they do on aphids and other bugs!
Fun Fact: Ladybugs may not be venomous, but their coloring isn’t their only form of defense against predators. Many species emit a foul-smelling liquid from their legs, making them decidedly unappetizing to hungry birds and lizards.