Fun Facts about Ladybugs
Ladybugs Fun Facts
Most of us are familiar with ladybugs -- those red or orange colored insects with the black spots. But did you know that many of the over five thousand species of ladybugs worldwide actually have black bodies with red markings? You may also have noticed that you don’t usually see ladybugs during the winter. This is because ladybugs are coldblooded and hibernate for the winter. Typically they will hibernate in clusters to share their body heat and keep each other warm. Ladybugs are able to survive for as many as nine months in hibernation by living off of their fat reserves. We are often amazed by the wings of hummingbirds which beat as rapidly as about 50 times per second but ladybugs’ wings beat even faster – approximately 85 times per second.
Due to their size, ladybugs may seem rather defenseless against predators but they do have a few natural defense mechanisms. First, ladybugs will pretend they are dead and fall to the ground if threatened. Second, they have the ability to secrete a foul-tasting substance from their joints which makes them unpalatable to would-be predators. Finally, the typical ladybug colors of red, orange and black, are generally viewed in the natural world as warning colors indicating that a plant or animal is unsafe or unpleasant to eat.
Many people throughout the world believe ladybugs bring good luck and ladybugs are one of the most beloved insects. Therefore it may surprise you to learn that certain species of this cute insect can and may actually “bite.” If they are particularly hungry or thirsty, they may land on you to see if you are a good source of food or water. In order to determine whether or not this is the case, they may use spurs on their legs which can give a sensation of a prick. Although the ladybugs aren’t intentionally hurting you, at times this bite can be hard enough to break skin and leave a sore spot for a while. Some people may also experience an allergic reaction to Asian ladybug secretions. Studies have even shown that ladybug allergies are almost as common as allergies to cats.
Ladybugs are a great natural pesticide and are even sold commercially as such. They eat minuscule insects called aphids which can destroy crops and other plants. When food is scarce, ladybugs have been known to become cannibalistic both within and among species. Ladybugs sold commercially are unique in that they usually aren’t raised in insect nurseries but rather are collected in the wild. One trick to keep ladybugs on your property once you have brought them home is to spray their wings with a half and half mixture of a regular soft drink and water. The sugars will cause the ladybugs’ wings to stick together, rendering them unable to fly for several days. By the time they have regained use of their wings, the females will likely have laid eggs and made themselves at home where they are, increasing the odds that at least some of them will remain on your property.