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Ladybugs in the garden

Updated on July 13, 2012

Ladybugs are so likeable and delightful.

Ladybugs are the favorite insects of children because of their distinctive spots and vibrant colors. Farmers love them because of their voracious appetite for plant-eating pests such as aphids, scale insects and mealybugs which destroy crops. Designers and artists are inspired by them because ladybugs are colorful and are the cutest insects around. Furthermore, ladybugs are not poisonous to humans and will not destroy homes.They secrete a bad-tasting fluid when attacked by predators and their brightly colored bodies make them undesirable preys. Ladybugs are also believed to bring good luck. So, what is there not to like about ladybugs?

Origin of the name Ladybug

Do not be fooled by the name.

Ladybugs, or Ladybirds as the names suggest, are not actually bugs or birds but belong to the family of beetles. Not all ladybugs are "ladies." There are both male and female ladybugs. The ladybug scientific name Coccinellidae literally means a small red sphere in Latin, although ladybugs are found in a variety of colors, ranging from yellow, orange, maroon, and scarlet. Some ladybugs are completely black, with bright red spots on their wings.

Another name for ladybugs is coleoptera, that means sheath winged. So how did the ladybugs get their name?

In the Middle Ages, these insects were named after the Virgin Mary, who was often shown wearing a red cloak in many paintings and were popularly known as the 'Beetle of Our Lady'. The seven black spots on the wings of the ladybugs were said to represent the seven joys and seven sorrows of Mother Mary. The name 'Beetle of Our Lady' was eventually shortened to 'ladybug'. Other names by which the ladybugs are known are 'ladybird beetles' or 'lady beetles', 'lady cow' and 'lady fly'.

More from Ladybug Facts

Let's get scientific.

Facts about the Ladybug

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Coleoptera

Genus: Coccinella

Family: Coccinellidae

Species: Above 5000

Size: 1 to 10mm (depending upon the species)

Diet: Onmivore, Aphids, Scale Insects, Mealybugs and Mites

Natural Habitat: Throughout the world

Age: 2 - 3 years

Gestation Period: 4 - 7 weeks

Number of Offspring: 1 - 2 (depending upon the species)

Ladybugs are lucky symbols

The gardener's best friend.

In many countries in the world, the ladybug is considered a symbol of good luck and some cultures even rear them as pets. The most likely explanation that ladybugs are lucky is because of their huge appetite for crop pests, like aphids, mites, white flies and scale insects. Farmers and gardeners welcome the presence of ladybugs as a blessing and venerate the insect as a lucky symbol. The good luck is not only confined to agriculture and harvest. They say that if a ladybug lands on your hand on a Sunday, and stays there until you count to 22, then good luck in on your way. A variant of this is that If one holds a ladybug and make a wish, the direction at which the ladybug flies is known to be the direction from which your wish will come true.

Ladybug Nursery Rhyme

Ladybug! Ladybug!

Fly away home,

Your house is on fire

And your children all gone.

All except one,

And that's little Ann,

For she crept under

The frying pan.

Male and female ladybugs look alike.

Males and females of many species look very similar, except to trained biologists. Ladybugs generally mate in the spring, producing a large clutch of eggs which is usually laid near a colony of aphids or other small insects. When the larvae hatch, they can feed on the insects until they get big enough to fly and find fresh food of their own. Ladybugs can also hibernate for brief periods, which allows companies to ship them by mail to people who want ladybugs for their classrooms or gardens.

The Life Cycle of a ladybug

Metamorphosis

The process of changing from an egg into a ladybug can take as little as twenty-four days.

Photo Credit Flickr: Bev Gregory

This is where it all start. In the mating process, the male ladybug will mount the female from behind. The male will likely be smaller than the female.

Photo Credit: leemt2

The female then lays the fertilized eggs.

Photo Credit: mikeytitan

Ladybugs lay hundreds of tiny yellow eggs in colonies of aphids. This is to ensure that the baby ladybugs have a ready food source when they hatch. The tiny golden yellow eggs look like miniature jelly beans and are usually laid on the undersides of leaves to protect them from predators and the weather. The eggs are only a millimeter in length and the numbers can range from a few to several hundreds, depending on the condition. When conditions are harsh, the ladybug will lay many eggs that are infertile. The infertile eggs will become food for the lucky ones that hatch before they start searching for live prey.

Photo Credit: pecunium

The ladybug eggs are beginning to develop into larvae. Their distinctive pattern of the larvae can be seen through the translucent eggs.

Photo Credit Flickr: BugMan50

After 5 days, the eggs turn white and the six-legged larvae will crawl out of the eggs and start devouring as many aphids as they can.The ladybug larva is about the size of a pinhead. It is long and dark with orange markings on its spikey backs with three pairs of prominent legs, growing to 7-8 mm in length. It also has a tiny sucker at the end of its body. This is a far cry from the cute appearance of the adult ladybug.

Photo Credit Flickr: daxsauerwein

After the larvae have feasted on aphids and grown, they will attach themselves to a leaf and pupate. At this stage, the pupa will begin to look like a shrimp. The larva wil grow and eat about 30 aphids a day and then molt or shed its skin at least three times during its growth. It must shed its skin because the skin will not stretch to fit its growing larval body. After molting, the new skin is gray with patches of orange.

In this photo, there are two pupae and three larvae waiting for their turn to pupate.

Photo Credit Flickr: Buglady1104

The larva stops eating when it is ready to molt for the last time. It sheds its skin and attaches itself to the underside of a leaf to hide from predators. The larva sheds its skin for the last time and becomes a pupa. The new skin dries out and hardens to protect the pupa.

Photo Credit Flickr: joeyspalnitng

These three ladybug pupae are beginning to look like the adult ladybug with the bright colors and distinctive spots, but without the glossy, hard domed shells. Inside the case of the pupa, many changes are taking place. Its body gets shorter and arches. Its skin thickens, and it sprouts wings. It is turning into a ladybug, but it is still hidden under the case. The changes take about five days, and then the ladybug pushes its way out of the case.

Photo Credit: arkansas traveler

"I'm out of here" exclaims the ladybug as it pushes itself out of its casing.

Photo Credit Flickr: friedkampes

The golden-colored ladybird beetle examines the casing from which it emerged from its pupa stage. When it emerges, it is completely soft and its exoskeleton and elytra must harden. The ladybug stays hidden until its wing cases and hind wings are dry and hard. At first it is a pale yellowish color and slowly turns orange and then red. Spots also begin to appear on the ladybug while its wings are drying, usually after 24 hours.

Photo Credit Flickr: friedkampes

After a couple of hours, the yellow color slowly changed to orange and the black spots begin to shine through.

Photo Credit Flickr: friedkampes

By now, the orange or red color with black spots have transformed this ladybug into its iconic image.

Behold the adult ladybug in all its splendor!

Photo Credit: skassam

This ladybug is all grown up and ready to take off. When it flies, the ladybug beats its wings for approximately 85 times in a second.

Ladybugs love aphids

Brunch on a branch

Aphids are a ladybug's favorite food. Also on the menu are small insects such as whitefly, mealybugs, scales, mites, bollworm, broccoli worm, tomato hornworm and cabbage moth. They will also eat the eggs of some insects such as moth eggs and certain ladybugs eat pollen and mildew. Rarely but if necessary a ladybug may resort to cannibalism.

Photo Credit: Dougeee

This rosebush teeming with aphids has an "All-you-can-eat sign" on it for this voracious ladybug. By the end of its three-to-six week life, a ladybug may eat some 5,000 aphids.

Photo Credit Flckr: Stijn de Groot

Here is as closeup of a hungry Asian Ladybug having an aphid for a snack. This is just an appetizer.

The wild colors of this little beetle give it a threatening look to keep it off limits to predators. Nature works in wondrous ways.

Ladybug Facts

There are 5000 different species of ladybugs that can be found around the globe.

In North America, there are 350 kinds of ladybugs. The five most common types are: the Two-Spotted Ladybug, the Convergent Ladybug, the Nine-Spotted Ladybug, the Spotless Ladybug, the Ashy Gray Ladybug (this kind is not red.)

The number of spots, pattern of markings on the wings and the color will help in identifying the type of ladybug. Not all lady bugs have round spots on their bodies, some even have white stripes instead of black spots. The bright colors of the ladybugs help them in distracting the birds from eating them.

Photo Credit Flickr: Michael Flick

This ladybug is the center of attraction of this yellow daisy without having to try very hard.

Photo Credit Flickr: Martin LaBar

The bright orange shell of the ladybird against the brown spent flowers looks like Fall is coming our way. This ladybug looks like a spotted pumpkin at a Harvest Festival.

Photo Credit Flickr: 1ladybug

This orange and black ladybug is all over the pretty fireweed.

Photo Credit Flickr: TexasEagle

Red against the goldenrod flowers make this "lady" eye-catching.

How do ladybugs keep warm in the winter?

Suspended animation.

When the weather begins to turn cold, ladybugs look for shelter. During the winter, they rest quietly and this period is called diapause.

Ladybugs huddle together under rocks, leaves, or tree barks during diapause. During diapause, the ladybugs do not grow which give insects like these a chance to survive when food is scarce. They can go without food for 9 months during diapause.

The adult Convergent Ladybug may spend the winter in protected hiding places such as logs, buildings, and ground covering vegetation, where many of them cluster together. Some may find an opening in a house and rest there during the winter. In the early spring, they begin looking for food again and soon females will once again lay eggs.

A ladybug's spots fade with age.

The spots on the wings of a ladybug fade as it gets older. Wish this were true for humans- begone sun spots and liver spots!

Ladybug patterns are very popular.

Ubiquitous is the word.

People all over the world love ladybugs. This cute little critter can be seen in every imaginable merchandise from clothing, toys, jewelry, puppets, costumes, baked goods, postage stamps, mouse pads, kitchen and home decor and many many more. The possibilities are endless.

Google it, and you will find it.

Get nailed with ladybugs! These ladybug-themed nails will definitely get you noticed.

Ladybugs make incredible edibles cute enough to eat!

A baker's delight

Ladybugs have been gracing cakes, cupcakes and cookies for as long as anyone can remember. They are one of the few insects that will put a smile on your face when you see them on anything edible, especially sweets and desserts.

Ladybug Party theme

Make your next party memorable by throwing a ladybug-themed event. Start with the invitations, table setting, and finish off with the lady bug desserts.

Ladybug Child Umbrella

Kidorable Toddler/Little Kid Ladybug Rain Boot,Red,9 M US Toddler

Little Girl's Red Ladybug Rain Coat Sizes 4/5 and 6/7

Kidorable Ladybug Raincoat

Size 5/6

Red Enamel Ladybug Brooch

(Silver Tone)

Enamel Ladybug In Heart Charm, 14K Yellow Gold

14k Enameled Ladybug Post Earrings

Belly Button Ring Navel 7/16" double ladybug dangle dangle 14 Gauge

Ten Little Ladybugs

Are You a Ladybug?

(Backyard Books)

Ladybugs

(Minibeasts)

Ladybugs:

Red, Fiery, and Bright

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Ladybugs got purpled!

On May 29, 2012, this lens was bestowed a Purple Star Award. I wholeheartedly thank the lensmaster who nominated this lens to be worthy of this honor.

What do you think of ladybugs.

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After reading this lens and learning a few things about ladybugs, ladybirds, ladybird beetles, do you feel you like them more now?

Do you like ladybugs?

See results

Are you a ladybug fan? If not, have you become one? - I cannot wait to hear from you.

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    • profile image

      aleesya_aqilah 4 years ago

      i love ladybug

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I like ladybug. Very informative lens. I learnt something here. :)

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      I've always loved ladybugs. They are so cute!

    • RedShoesGirl profile image

      RedShoesGirl 5 years ago

      I was crazy for ladybugs since I was a small kid. Lovely lens.

    • CircusRunaway profile image

      CircusRunaway 5 years ago

      Lovely lens!

    • profile image

      sherioz 5 years ago

      What a gorgeous and informative lens. Love it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yeah ladybugs are very interesting

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      What an interesting look at the Ladybug. Valuable little critters to have around. Very well done.

    • VeseliDan profile image

      VeseliDan 5 years ago

      I have a lot of ladybugs in my garden! I think they bring me luck! *blessed*

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      I love this lens...and ladybugs. I didn't know those larvae turned into ladybugs!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      This is an incredible lens with wonderful pics and great research behind it. Featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012-2 and also on Save Planet Earth. Hugs

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 5 years ago

      Super, super lens! I always adored ladybugs, maybe because they are one of the very few animals I could actually draw.

    • marlies vaz nunes profile image

      Marlies Vaz Nunes 5 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

      What a lovely lens!

      I've always been a ladybird fan. As a kid I collected the pupae and watched the adults come out. Then I let them fly away.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My Mother used to love them and let them crawl up her arm. I remember her telling me that the ones with one spot bite, while the others do not. I don't remember why but I do remember one biting me once. Blessed!

    • Coreena Jolene profile image

      Coreena Jolene 5 years ago

      Great job on this lens. I learned a lot about lady bugs here :) Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      I love ladybugs! Awesome pictures!

    • SoyCandleLover profile image

      BW Duerr 5 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      Beautiful photos and details about Ladybugs. Being a gardener, I love the Ladybug so much that I consider them my personal signature and included one for my lawn & landscape company logo. Besides being the cutest bug there is, I can really appreciate the green way they have of getting rid of aphids and other garden pests. Always a pleasure to see in the gardens.

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 5 years ago from Texas

      I've always loved ladybugs. There are hundreds of them around my house. A lot of great information, and even better photos in your article. Thanks!

    • edecas4 profile image

      Ellen de Casmaker 5 years ago from Powell RIver BC

      I have always been a ladybug fan - in all their phases

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Enjoyed your info on ladybugs...glad to know they bring luck. Pictures are professional, a joy to look at.

    • SecondHandJoe LM profile image

      SecondHandJoe LM 5 years ago

      Absolutely fascinating. I didn't know that! Great pics and story- thanks!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      Wow! This is truly a lot of information on ladybugs! You found some great pictures too.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      Yupp, COUNTRYLUTHIER is a dedefinite fan of this bug/beetle!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing so many facts about ladybug. & the pictures taken now are so beautifully taken pics of lady bug. Beautiful lessons I have learn here.

      -whey protein isolate

    • vanidiana24 profile image

      vanidiana24 6 years ago

      I have great time learning about ladybug from this lens. Thanks for sharing!

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 6 years ago

      coming again to this lens, i like to show you a photo of my daughter:

      http://www.pbase.com/erichmangl/image/82825264

      it's meant as private comment, please delete it. thank you

    • profile image

      Geniusabi 6 years ago

      wonderful lens with great photos. Ladybugs are cute and look beautiful. thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      GetSillyProduct 6 years ago

      ladybugs are cute, but they're overrated

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      You've covered the topic very thoroughly and made it quite attractive. Well done!

      Blessed by a squid angel and added to The Best Insect Pages on Squidoo.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a great lens on these tiny cute Ladybugs. Your lens is like an encyclopaedia with such a great content and images.

    • profile image

      PrettyWorld 6 years ago

      I've never seen photos of the larvae before. I got stung by the spines on one of those while gardening last summer! VERY painful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thank you for featuring my lens on this lens. I am honored! Yes, ladybugs (or ladybirds as I have known them as) always fascinated me when I was young. I would sit for ages with one on my hand, just watching it, and then see it fly away. Fantastic lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I've always been a fan of the ladybug and even more so now. You have done beautifully here. I'd never seen the eggs or larvae. I was fascinated to learn that in bad conditions the ladybug actually adapts and lays extra sterile eggs as food for the young, what a great adaptation.

    • EdTecher profile image

      Heidi Reina 6 years ago from USA

      You've paired fabulous ladybug pics with valuable info. It doesn't get better than that!

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 6 years ago

      Fascinating, delightful and well worth reading and stunning visuals. Glad I visited.

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 6 years ago

      I love this! The pictures are amazing, and I loved bugs as a young girl...remember they liked to drink from a drop of sugar water. So good in the garden for aphids...I can't resist blessing this and adding to the growing herbs etc section at http://www.squidoo.com/nutrition-angel

    • antoivo lm profile image

      antoivo lm 6 years ago

      Now this is a cool lens very very well done on the work you put in here. I think this should get lens of the day, so i`m going to put it forward for my vote. I just love this well done to you!

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 6 years ago

      Some cute ladybug stuff! I love the pictures and the lady bug, lady bug fly away home. I used to always say that as a child....Who didn't?

    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 6 years ago

      I instruct beading classes and adopted the 'ladybug' as my theme/icon. Since then I have accumulated quite a collection of ladybugs.

      I have favorited this page since I simply adore ladybugs. Thanks for the great info and love the pics.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      I am already but the pictures on this lens are awesome!

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 6 years ago

      A fun read all about Ladybugs! My Angel Blessing today is SWAH :)

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

      Awesome lens. Very well done.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 6 years ago

      Very well done lens!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a wonderful and colorful lens! It also has a great deal of interesting information about ladybugs that most people don't know about. Great work!

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wonderful and informative lens.