What are ladybirds?
Ladybirds (sometimes known as ladybugs) are European beetles that belong to the family of Coccinellidae. Their name originated in United Kingdom where they were called “Our Lady’s bird” in honour of the Virgin Mary who was often depicted wearing a red dress. In North America, coccinellids are commonly known as ladybugs (although they are not technically bugs).
Ladybirds range from 1 mm. to 10 mm in size and are particularly brightly coloured, most commonly yellow, red, or orange with black spots on the wings. Their bodies are usually round and dome-shaped with short, clubbed antennae, and retractable legs. In general, females are bigger than males.
Nearly 6,000 species of ladybirds are known worldwide of which are found in the UK. They are estimated to live up to 3 years if their environment is good.
What do Ladybirds eat?
Ladybirds are considered beneficial insects because they normally feed on orchard and agricultural pests such as aphids, mites, and scale insects. However, some species can be very destructive and feed on important plants and fruits.
When food is scarce or competition is tough, ladybirds opt for other means of feeding such taking in flower nectars, sap, water, and honeydew and may even eat other ladybirds.
Where do Ladybirds live?
Ladybirds can be found almost anywhere in the world. They exist in wide range of ecosystems including vast lands, vegetations, river banks, and woods. Practically everywhere!
Interesting Ladybird facts
- While most species of ladybirds have noticeable black spots, some have almost none.
- When flying, a ladybird flaps its wings 85 times per second.
- Ladybirds chew their food from side to side and not up and down like humans do.
- A ladybird’s blood is colored yellow and is very toxic to predators.
- The insect’s spots fade as it gets older.
Take a tour around a garden and look for ladybirds. Count their black spots (see if they have any) and see if you find the same species as your friends. A different number of spots means a different species of ladybird!