ladybird beetle

Most people know red and black spotted ladybird beetles as friendly insects that are fun to pick up and watch fly away. Often called "ladybugs," these insects actually aren't true bugs at all. They are beetles. There are more than 5,000 species of ladybird beetles, and most are helpful to humans. Ladybird beetles have chewing mouthparts that are well-suited for munching on their prey.

Order: Coleoptera
Size: 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long
Range: found in crop fields, meadows, and forests throughout North America and worldwide
Diet: aphids and other pest insects
Characteristics: reddish-orange beetle with
black dots, round body, and chewing mouthparts
Significance: natural way to control pest insects in gardens and on crops

Image credits: main image: courtesy of Scott Bauer, Agricultural Research Service.