9 Amazing Facts About Ladybirds | Love The Garden

9 Amazing Facts About Ladybirds

Paul Walshe's picture
By Paul Walshe, Gardening Enthusiast
2 Ladybirds on Leaf

Ladybirds are one of the most common insects that you will see in the garden! But there are so many things you won’t know about this family of small beetles.

The Coccinellidae, or ladybird as we know it, ranges in size between 0.8 and 18 mm and commonly vary in colour between yellow, orange and red with black spots. There are rarer types of colouring variation, for example the Vibidia duodecimguttata species are known to have a whitish background with brown coloured spots.

There are around 6,000 different species of Coccinellids found all over the world. Take a look at these fun facts surrounding the Coccinellidae, or ladybird as we know it!

Did You Know?...

1. They are known as ‘pest controllers’ as they feed on aphids and scale insects, which are a nuisance in the garden. They are actually more effective than poisonous chemicals.

Red & Black Spotted Ladybird on Leaf
Image Credit: University of Liverpool

2. Ladybirds lay hundreds of eggs in the colonies of aphids and other plant-eating pests. When they hatch, the ladybird larvae immediately begin to feed. By the end of its three-to-six-week life, the larvae may eat some 5,000 aphids.

Yellow and Black Spotted Ladybird
Image Credit: naturespot.org.uk

 

3. The lady in the name ladybird refers to the Virgin Mary. Historically, crops were plagued by the pests during the middle ages and many farmers would pray to the Blessed Lady, the Virgin Mary.

Cream Spotted Brown Ladybird

 

4. When ladybirds feel threatened, they actually secrete a liquid called hemolymph from their knees. Potential predators may be deterred by the vile mix of alkaloids, and equally repulsed by the sight of a seemingly sickly beetle.

 

Yellow Spotted Ladybird
Image Credit: naturespot.org.uk

 

5. Ladybirds actually lay fertile and infertile eggs. The infertile eggs provide a ready source of food for the young larvae which hatch from the fertile eggs. When times are tough, a ladybug may lay an increased number of infertile eggs to give her babies a better chance of surviving.

Flurry of Ladybirds
Image Credit: ask.com

 

6. If food is scarce, ladybugs will do what they must to survive, even if it means eating each other. A hungry ladybug will make a meal of any soft-bodied sibling it encounters. Newly emerged adults or recently moulted larvae are soft enough for the average ladybug to chew. Eggs or pupae also provide protein to a ladybug that has run out of aphids.

Harlequin Ladybird on a leaf
Image Credit: The Guardian

 

7. A very large number are mostly, or entirely, black, grey, or brown. Conversely, there are many small beetles that are easily mistaken for ladybirds, such as the tortoise beetles. Not all ladybirds have spots - some are striped.

Black and Red Spotted Ladybird
Image Credit: naturespot.org.uk

 

8. Ladybirds are called Ladybugs in the US. In Europe they are also referred to as lady beetles. They have many regional names (now mostly disused) in the UK such as the lady-cows, may-bug, golden-knop, golden-bugs (Suffolk); and variations on Bishop-Barnaby (Norfolk dialect) – Barnabee, Burnabee, the Bishop-that-burneth, and bishy bishy barnabee.

Invasive Harlequin Ladybird
Image Credit: abugblog.blogspot.com

 

9. The spots on a ladybirds back have nothing whatsoever to do with its age, fun as it may be to count them. In some cases, though, you can determine the ladybug's species by taking note of the number and position of those markings. The seven-spotted lady beetle, for example, has seven black spots on its red back.

Two Spotted Ladybird
Image Credit: phys.org

 

There are some great ways to make ladybirds welcome, including ladybird houses, and logs that will encourage those 'pest controllers' to your garden. If you have any great pictures or stories of how ladybirds have helped your plantlife, then please share with us on our social media sites. 

 

 

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