30 Amazing Ladybug Facts You Probably Didn’t Know


Ladybug on blade of grass

Most of us have enjoyed ladybugs since we were kids. They’re said to be good luck, some may have even kept them as pets, and who can resist their cute little red bodies and black spots. But here are a few shocking facts about ladybugs you certainly didn’t learn in school.

In truth, ladybugs are not actually bugs, they have huge appetites, and there are up to 5000 types of ladybugs in the world right now! Ladybugs are a true wonder to this world, and can even fly for two hours straight! Ladybugs are also the official bug for six different states.

So, without further ado – today we’re talking ladybugs and we’re sharing some amazing facts that you would have never known!

Ladybugs Aren’t Bugs

Yup, it’s true. A ladybug isn’t actually a bug, and rather just an insect. A bug is a type of insect, I know, gets a bit confusing, but the truth is, these little ladybugs are not quite bugs at all.

 A ladybug is an insect which means it has three body parts and six legs. A ladybug is part of the Coccinellidae family of insects and the Arthropoda phylum. They belong to the largest order of animals, Coleoptera.

But I know what you are thinking – what does all this mean? Simplistically, ladybugs aren’t bugs and aren’t just insects, they are much more important than that.

Ladybugs Are Name After The Virgin Mary

Ladybugs are actually named after the Virgin Mary and there are a lot of reasons why!

  1. When farmers back in the day would see these little red bugs flying towards their crops, they felt that it was the Virgin Mary protecting their crops, because they would pray to the Virgin Mary when pests began to eat the crops. Ladybugs would eat the bugs that would destroy the farmer’s products.
  1. The Virgin Mary in many biblical paintings is wearing a red cloak, and the color of red represents the ladybug.
  1. In Europe, the seven-spotted ladybug is the most common, and it was thought to believe that the seven spots represented the Virgin Mary’s seven joys and seven sorrows.

A Ladybugs’ Color Keeps Predators Away

Ladybug on yellow sunflower

The darker colors and spots of the ladybug are actually indicative of toxins to many insects and animals (think of the coloration of a poison dart frog!). Seeing red is usually a no, no for animals, and thus, the ladybug’s color naturally keeps predators away from them.

Ladybugs Eat Insects

This is the reason why farmers believe that the Virgin Mary had sent the ladybugs to save their crops. Ladybugs eat all the bad-for-crops insects and typically eat plant-eating insects.

Ladybugs eat aphids and other bad bugs like chinch bugs, alfalfa weevils, bean thrips, grape rootworm, Colorado potato beetle, spider mites, whiteflies, and more. Pretty much, all the bad guys of the garden world.

In its entire lifetime, a ladybug can consume 5000 aphids!

Ladybug Larvae looks like Alligators

It’s true, and it’s honestly quite terrifying. Ladybug larvae aren’t born looking like ladybugs at all. Ladybugs are born with elongated black, orange bodies and with bumpy exoskeletons and will stay like this until they pupate on a leaf.

Ladybug larvae feed on insects for several weeks, and eventually, will find a spot on a leaf, and pupate for 7-15 days. Unlike caterpillars who spin a web, a ladybug will change before your eyes and will stay stationary until the process is over.

While the ladybugs pupate, the adults don’t typically stick around. Adult ladybugs have one thing, and one thing only on their mind, and that’s to eat!

Adult Ladybugs Hibernate

In the spring to fall, you will see ladybugs. However, when the temperatures start to get cold, adult ladybugs actually hibernate!

Ladybugs hibernate in colonies, and up to 1000 ladybugs at a time will colonize. Ladybugs seek a warm, secluded spot, will get really close to one another, and then hibernate until the warmer days appear.

Ladybugs typically hibernate in hollowed-out tree bark, rotting logs, under rocks, and even inside houses or sheds.

Lady Bugs Will Eat Other Ladybugs

We think of these ladybugs as sweet little creatures – but the reality is – they are actually cannibals and will eat their own!

If food is scarce, a ladybug has no problem with eating another ladybug. But, this isn’t the typical eating situation for all ladybugs. Since there are so many species of ladybugs, there are some that actually are only herbivores, and are considered plant-eating pests!

Those plant-eating ladybugs, or vegan ladybugs if you will, are eaten by most other ladybug species.

You Can’t Tell The Age of a Ladybug by Its Spots

Myth – busted! You cannot tell the age of a ladybug by its spots, at all. The truth is, ladybugs don’t even live that long, so the spots have absolutely nothing to do with their age.

However, what is fascinating about a ladybug’s spots is that the spots are actually a defense mechanism that was passed on from generation to generation of ladybug species. The spots are a defense mechanism that is intertwined within a ladybug’s DNA!

It’s called aposematic coloration and what that means is that ladybugs coloring actually warns predators that they are poisonous or toxic. Monarch butterflies, jewel bugs, velvet ants, wasps, and animals like skunks and rattlesnakes all have defense mechanisms that warn predators to avoid them.

Ladybugs Have an Extra Set of Wings

Ladybug on flower with wings out

We all know the ladybugs as having the red and black-spotted wings – but actually, those aren’t the actual wings that they use to fly.

A ladybug has a second set of wings, underneath the red and black-spotted wings, that are used to fly. This second set of wings are translucent and black in color, and only used when they fly. The red outer shell is a covering to protect its wings.

Ladybugs Have Huge Appetites

Ladybugs LOVE to eat – and it’s funny to think about since they are so darn tiny!

On any given day, an adult ladybug can eat up to 75 aphids. They also feed on other insects like fruit flies and mites. Since they are generally carnivores, their huge appetites help farmers, and even your everyday planter, as they eat all the bad insects that eat our gardens!

In their entire lifetimes, ladybugs eat thousands and thousands of insects. Eating all these insects help ladybugs store fat, and that fat can actually keep them alive without food for up to 20 days – but ladybugs are not the type to miss a meal.

Ladybugs Are a Type of Beetle

Yes, it’s true. Ladybugs are actually a type of beetle. I know, chills.

Ladybugs are considered beetles because they have 4 wings, in which the outside pair are hard, and used to protect the inside wings. When at rest, the inner wings are folded and kept safe underneath the first, harder layer of wings.

When you really think of it – it does make sense. They look like little beetles, but they’re romanticized because of their beneficial predator behaviors and are kid-friendly.

Lady Bugs Can Have Over 20 Spots

With over 5000 species of ladybugs, ladybug spots vary in quantity.

The most common ladybugs have 2-7 spots. Many types of ladybugs are actually named directly after their spots like the Seven-Spotted Ladybug, the Two-Spotted Ladybug, or the Twenty-Spotted Ladybug.

Although not common, there are ladybugs native to North America that have over 20 spots! And they’re not always red. The Twenty-Two Spotted Ladybug is typically yellow in color.

Ladybugs Play Dead

Called “turtle-style”, ladybugs can curl their legs up into their shell, and secrete a blood-like substance from their knees that makes predators think they are dead.

A way that ladybugs protect themselves is by playing dead – just like a possum plays dead!

When a predator is near, although the colors of the ladybug are often enough to protect themself, if they feel threatened, rolling up into a ball, hiding their legs, and secreting a foul-smelling substance, usually makes predators pass them right by.

Ladybugs Are Both Male And Female

ladybug on plant leaf

Ladybugs are both male and female, and although the name ladybug makes you think they are female – that’s just a misconception.

It is hard to tell a male ladybug from a female. However, two ways to help identify male from female is that male ladybugs are smaller in size than a female, and the females have a convex shape to their distal margin (bellies). But you probably won’t ever be close enough to inspect a ladybug’s belly!

Ladybugs Use Their Antennae to Smell

Ladybugs have two antennas that are located right in front of their eyes – and are actually the main way that ladybugs find their food.

A ladybug uses its antennae to search for food. A ladybug doesn’t have that great of sight, so they use their sense of smell, which is brought on by the antennas, to find food and prey. Ladybugs also use their antennae to taste and find their way around.

The antenna of the ladybug is situated at the tippy top of their heads, and contrary to popular belief, the ladybug’s head isn’t actually where the red wings end. Where the wings end, there is then a part of the thorax, and then from there is the ladybug’s head.

Some Ladybugs Are Yellow

Not all ladybugs are red, however, all ladybugs are at one point – yellow.

When ladybugs are done pupating, they are typically yellow for the first few days. When they come out of the pupa, their colors aren’t fully formed, and they may not have any spots. In time, and fairly quickly, ladybugs start to gain their red to orange colors and spots, and that’s when they become protected from predators.

 However, some ladybugs do stay yellow and form their spots. It’s not uncommon to see a yellow ladybug, but more often than not, the yellow coloring is the only way to determine if a ladybug is young or not.

Ladybugs Can Bite

These little insects actually bite! Who knew? We’ve all had a ladybug crawl up onto our fingers, or land on our hands – and although it is not common for a ladybug to bite – they can!

The funny thing is that ladybugs don’t actually have teeth – so on a rare occasion that you do get bit by one, they really don’t cause any harm. You may just feel a subtle pinch!

If you find these cute little bugs to be a pest you no longer want around – here are a few ways to deter ladybugs with scents.

Ladybugs Are Good Luck

Ladybugs have always been said to be good luck, or in some cultures, some say they are a visit from a passed relative.

Ladybugs are considered to be messengers of good news! If you happen to see a ladybug, there’s a good chance you are going to hear some great news, or maybe – you just received a blessing!

Ladybugs represent protection, love, luck, good fortune, and good news – so, if you happen to stumble across these tiny creatures – expect some goodness to come your way!

Ladybugs Represent Love

There are so many tales out there that talk about ladybug conspiracies. But hey – believing in these fun little ideas won’t do you any harm!

It is said that if a ladybug lands on the hand of a woman who is not married – that means marriage is in her near future! Further, if you come across either a spotless or yellow ladybug, that means you may find new love. 

Even further, if a spotted ladybug lands on you – it’s said to count the spots to see how many children you are going to have!

Although these can be just little tales that were passed on from generations ago, they are fun and harmless!

There Are Over 5000 Species of Ladybugs

Although we commonly see red-spotted ladybugs – it’s kind of hard to even tell that there are different ones out there! The truth is – worldwide there are over 5000 species of ladybugs, and there are 150 species in the United States of America!

Fun fact (amongst the 30 other fun facts in this article) one species of ladybug is actually considered the rarest species to exist, amongst all types of insects and animals! It’s a tan-bodied ladybug that looks like a pin – and get this – it’s headless!

Only two of these rare ladybugs have ever been spotted, one male ladybug in Idaho, and one female in Montana! How could this be? This discovery actually led to a new genus!

Ladybugs Can Live Up to 3 Years Old

Our little ladybugs don’t actually live that long when compared to humans, but for insects, 3 years really isn’t too bad!

However, the conditions have to be absolutely perfect for a ladybug to live long. The problem that occurs is that ladybugs need to keep eating to live, and as long as they have an ample supply of food, and good weather conditions, they can live up to 3 years!

If you decide to keep a ladybug for a pet indoors and then transition them outside, here’s what you need to know.

Ladybugs Weigh The Same As One Grain of Rice

Ladybug eggs on green leaf

Ladybugs have the tiniest little bodies that measure up to 1-10 millimeters, and only weigh a grand total of .02 grams! That’s the weight of one grain of rice! The picture above is of ladybug eggs!

Being a 3-part insect, and having 6 legs, plus eating all day, every day, ladybugs remain extremely lightweight.

Since ladybugs are beetles, technically, the largest beetle to ever live was 100 grams in weight, but I think that’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

A Lady Bug Can Beat Its Wings 85 Times a Second

How? Can you imagine how quickly a second is – and how fast a ladybug’s wings have to be to beat at 85 times a second!

When ladybugs fly, their wings flap at extraordinary speeds to keep them afloat! Ladybugs flapping their wings 85 times a second equals out to about 5100 times a minute, which to us – just sounds exhausting!

Ladybugs Are Cold-Blooded

Ladybugs are cold-blooded, which means they typically live in warmer climates – and also, why they are really only seen in the warmer months!

Ladybugs actually aren’t able to fly in weather that is colder than 55 degrees Fahrenheit! When the weather is too cold, it is almost impossible for a ladybug to be at a stable, warm temperature – and thus, they either hibernate or fly off to find warmer climates!

Ladybugs Can Fly For 2 Hours

Can you believe it? The time it takes to go from NY to Florida is about a 2-hour plane ride, now can you imagine a ladybug being up in the air, flying for that long?

A ladybug can fly up to 37 mph and can reach up to 70 miles without taking a break! These little insects have big flying capabilities!

Ladybugs Are The State Insect For 6 States

Ladybugs are loved all throughout the United States, and 6 states love them so much that it became their state insect!

Delaware, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, and Tennessee all share the same state insect – the ladybug!

Ladybugs Are Seen All Over The World

With upwards of 5000 species – ladybugs are seen all throughout the world, however, the species of ladybugs differs, and in some areas, certain ladybugs are completely extinct!

In the Northeast part of North America, there are virtually no 9-spotted ladybugs. Also, there is a good chance that the only ladybugs we are seeing here in the USA are the invasive species type of ladybug – the Asian Lady Beetle.

Ladybugs Are Not in Antarctica

No surprise here – but ladybugs are not found in Antarctica! It is just way too cold for the ladybugs out there, and like many other animal species – they avoid Antarctica!

With temperatures reaching -60 degrees Celsius, you can bet that a ladybug is going nowhere close to Antarctica.

In England, Ladybugs Are Called LadybirdBeetles

Although it is commonly called the Ladybug, in England ladybugs are actually called Lady Bird Beetles!

With similarities to the ladybugs being sent from the Virgin Mary – following this story, in England, these ladybugs were seen to be called “Our Lady’s Birds” as they were considered to be birds of the Virgin Mary.

You Can Keep a Ladybug As a Pet

It’s true! If your kiddos are asking for a pet, and you’re just not about being a cat or dog mom – why not have a ladybug as a pet?

They’re cute and quiet, and require little to no care, but, if you provide them with a habitat – ladybugs will flourish as a pet!

If you do keep a ladybug, you are going to need to feed it aphids, or even things like wet raisins, and make sure to provide some water! The good news is, you can fill the habitat with some food, and the ladybug will eat as much as it pleases until it’s full!

That’s a Wrap!

Ladybugs are fascinating little insects! They are known to bring you good luck and are truly a beautiful sight to see. 

Next time you see a ladybug, check out its spots, or take a look at their 2 sets of wings – ladybugs are just so unique, and there are so many cool differences from one ladybug to the next. 

References:

“Ladybug (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior

“Lady Beetles – 5.594.” Extension, 15 Apr. 2016

Matthews, J. R. (1982). Defensive Behavior in Beetles. In Insect Behavior (1st ed., p. 9).

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