10 Fanciful Facts About Ladybugs

There are very few insects quite as beautiful as little ladybugs. With bright red domes punctuated with blot dots, there is something almost surreal about the perfect shape and color of these delightful critters. Other less-appealing bugs are often squashed when they invade a home. But ladybugs are captured with gentle hands and set free. They have a reputation as a valuable part of the nature ecosystem, in addition to being harmless visitors tucked inside windowsills.

Other bugs, even the helpful ones, are often repulsive due to a somewhat icky, squishy bodice. Even worse are the insects that bite or sting upon contact. Ladybugs, however, tickle little arms as they crawl across them. And their slick, hard, bright red exteriors almost look like fabricated toys. Curious kids will love learning about the complex lives, reproductive habits, and contributions these pretty little bugs make to the world around them.



Interesting Ladybug Facts 

Next time you spot a bright red bug perched on a leaf, take a moment to share some of these ladybug facts with your children. Consider exploringladybug picture books that are full of information about the lives of these very important insects. In the meantime, here is some valuable information to pique the interest of nature-loving kids.

(1) Farmers love ladybugs.

These lovely bugs protect a crops by eating other invasive insects. One ladybug can consume more than 5,000 plant-eating insects over the course of her life. They eat aphids, fruit flies, and mites amongst other nuisance insects.

(2) Ladybugs love warm weather.

They thrive outdoors from spring through fall, but when temperatures drop, these bugs seek alternative environments. Rotting logs and underneath rocks are popular places where they congregate during colder months. This is also when they most often find comfort and security inside houses. Although people find their vibrant shell quite beautiful, it is actually a signal to predators that they make an unsavory snack. Birds are the biggest threat, followed by spiders, wasps, frogs, and dragonflies.

(3) Eggs are laid in rows on the underside of leaves.

After a few days, larvae resembling teeny, tiny alligators emerge. A process follows where skin is shed several times and they attach they tails to the leaf. Next a pupa is formed, which is another name for an insect between an immature and mature state. A few short weeks later a full-fledged ladybug is ready to take on the world.

(4) European farmers gave the the ladybug her name.

When their crops were decimated by plant-eating insects, the farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary. Soon the little red bugs appeared in mass and began to eat the harmful insects. They were soon called "beetle of Our Lady", then "lady beetle", and ultimately "ladybug".

(5) The ladybug population is dropping.

Researchers attribute a number of different reasons why their numbers are falling, including climate change, introduction of non-native species, shifts in the use of land, disease, and decline in the availability of prey. An increase in pollution is also a main contributor as well as the loss of their natural habitat. The increased use of pesticides in combination with destruction of native weeds designed to get rid of nuisance bugs has an adverse affect on ladybugs as well.

(6) Their spots are designed to keep predators away.

To the human eye, the ladybug is a pretty little speck that stands out in tall blades of green grass and leaves in flower gardens. Don't be fooled by the aesthetics of this bug. Her colors are, in fact, part of a well-designed defense system against predators. The bright colors spotted with black dots are a warning sign that the she does not taste good. When birds and other small prey are not adequately deterred, the ladybug emits foul-smelling blood from her leg joints that can be toxic when consumed. She also is known to play dead when a predator is near. Yet despite her many tricks, the ladybug still falls victim to stink bugs, spiders, and other insects.

(7) Ladybugs can live up to one year.

Assuming optimal conditions and no interference by predators, an adult ladybug can survive for an entire year. In reality, most only survive for two to three months during the period of time when they are most active. Although they can live for several months without food using stored reserves, ladybugs do not live for more than a couple of weeks when kept in captivity.

(8) There are more than 5,000 types of ladybugs around the world.

In North America alone, there are more than 450 different species. The red bug with black spots is the most common and recognizable, but kids will be surprised to learn these little critters exist in other colors and patterns as well. For instance, some have stripes instead of polka dots. Also, in addition to red, these little ladies can be brown, orange, pink, yellow and even black! The most typical, however, is the oval shaped red bug with seven spots- three down each side and one in the middle.

(9) The scientific name for a ladybug is a lot more difficult to pronounce. Try saying Coccinellidae!

Despite the name "bug" being part of her familiar name, these tiny insects are technically beetles. For a deeper dive into the classification system, bugs are part of the Hemiptera order while beetles fall under Coleoptera. In fact, it is only in the United States where these insects are referred to as ladybugs. In other parts of the world, they are called ladybird beetles, a name that is more closely aligned with the classification.

(10) Global warming is responsible for the decline in the ladybug population.

Just like almost every other critter roaming the planet, ladybugs are on impacted by human activity. As temperatures continue to rise and regions around the world face unprecedented heat waves, the rhythm of the ladybugs is completely disrupted. Their ability reproduce is affected, as well as the helpful ways they control pests, like aphids, for farmers and gardeners. These little bugs also are dying off due to becoming overheated and dehydrated.




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