Ladybugs

Learn how the ladybug's big appetite is a boon to many farmers. Find out the real purpose of their familiar polka-dot pattern.

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A spotless ladybug (Cycloneda sanguinea) photographed in Salt Lake City, Utah
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A harlequin ladybug (Harmonia axyridis) photographed in Walton, Nebraska
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Ladybug pupae photographed in Lincoln, Nebraska
Tap images for captions
Common Name: Ladybugs
Scientific Name: Coccinellidae
Type: Invertebrates
Diet: Omnivores
Average life span in Captivity:  2 to 3 years.
Size: 0.3 to 0.4 in

Size relative to a paper clip

IUCN Red List Status: 
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The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.

lc

Least Concern

At relatively low risk of extinction

nt

Near Threatened

Likely to become vulnerable in the near future

vu

Vulnerable

At high risk of extinction in the wild

en

Endangered

At very high risk of extinction in the wild

cr

Critically Endangered

At extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

ew

Extinct in the Wild

Survives only in captivity

ex

Extinct

No surviving individuals in the wild or in captivity

Data Deficient

Not enough information available to make an assessment

Not Evaluated

No assessment has been made

?
lc
nt
vu
en
cr
ew
ex
least concernextinct
Current Population Trend: 

Unknown


Many people are fond of ladybugs because of their colorful, spotted appearance. But farmers love them for their appetite.

Importance to Farming

Most ladybugs voraciously consume plant-eating insects, such as aphids, and in doing so they help to protect crops. Ladybugs lay hundreds of eggs in the colonies of aphids and other plant-eating pests. When they hatch, the ladybug larvae immediately begin to feed.

Population

Ladybugs are also called lady beetles or, in Europe, ladybird beetles. There are about 5,000 different species of these insects, and not all of them have the same appetites. A few ladybugs prey not on plant-eaters but on plants. The Mexican bean beetle and the squash beetle are destructive pests that prey upon the crops mentioned in their names.

Spots and Coloring

Ladybugs appear as half-spheres, tiny, spotted, round or oval-shaped domes. They have short legs and antennae.

Their distinctive spots and attractive colors are meant to make them unappealing to predators. Ladybugs can secrete a fluid from joints in their legs which gives them a foul taste. Their coloring is likely a reminder to any animals that have tried to eat their kind before: "I taste awful." A threatened ladybug may both play dead and secrete the unappetizing substance to protect itself. 

WATCH: First-Ever Look at the Intricate Way Ladybugs Fold Their Wings
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