Ladybug, ladybug or ladybeetle, is the popular name of the numerous species of Coleoptera, belonging to the family Coccinellidae, and remarkable for their beautiful variety of coloring.
Ladybugs are from one-sixth to one-fourth of an inch (0.4-0.6 cm) long. Brightly colored with a roundish humped body. Most are pink, orange, or red with black dots.
The body is oval and convex and the wingcases, usually bear dark spots arranged in a definite pattern. Very often the specific name gives an indication of the number of spots present. Thus Coccinella septem-punctata (Latin septem, seven; puncta, dot) is the seven-spot ladybird. This species is found in Britain, measures 5-8 mm long and is red with seven black spots.
Their chief characteristic is the curious formation of the tarsi, of which only three of the four segments are visible, the third being sunk in the second; the antennae are short and slightly clubbed, and the head is largely concealed by the thorax.
Ladybugs live throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. Because they feed chiefly on other small insects, they are sometimes used to control aphids and other insect pests.
Both the adults and larvae of ladybirds are generally carnivorous, feeding on plant pests such as aphids, scale insects, mites, and the eggs of a number of insects. They play a beneficial role in controlling agricultural pests; for example a ladybird larva eats 11 - 25 aphids daily, and an adult consumes from 16 - 56 aphids daily.
The female ladybug lays clusters of 200 to 500 tiny yellow eggs. The larvae, which hatch a few days later, may be black, orange, blue, or red. Within three or four weeks they pupate and later emerge as adults.
The familiar rhyme "Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home, Your house is on fire, and your children will burn" refers to the European custom of burning vines infested with aphids and ladybug larvae.
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