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147

ladybird beetle

OLogy Series
animal
card
147

ladybird beetle

OLogy Series
animal

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.

Back Off, Birds!
Ladybird beetles protect themselves from predators in a number of ways. Color has a very important role in nature. Bright colors often tell insects and animals to back off, or else they'll have a stomachache! Their red and black bodies alert birds to stay away. At a young age, birds learn to steer clear of insects that are bright red, orange, or yellow. Ladybird beetles can also protect themselves by "playing dead." When they sense danger, they pull in their legs and secrete a foul-smelling, awful-tasting orange fluid.

Over the cold winter months, ladybird beetles:

hibernate

eat snow

fly south to warmer climates

Are you right?

Correct!

Bears aren't the only animals that hibernate. During cold winter months, ladybird beetles hide under leaves, under the loose bark of trees, and in bushes. Sometimes, they invite themselves inside people's houses as winter guests.

What honor does the convergent ladybird beetle hold?

It received the Presidential Honor for Metamorphosis.

It was selected as Ohio's state insect.

It is the largest living beetle.

Are you right?

Correct!

The people of Ohio are so fond of this helpful beetle that in 1975 it was selected as the state insect. Ladybird beetles are celebrities because they help keep gardens and crop fields free of pest insects.

Some ladybird beetles can eat up to 75 aphids a day.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Ladybird beetles have huge appetites, and to them, aphids are tasty treats. They may eat more than 5,000 aphids during its lifetime.

ladybird beetle
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: courtesy of Scott Bauer, Agricultural Research Service.