A ladybug lands on your hand. You see another one, out of the corner of your eye, land on your shoulder. You never believed that ladybugs bring good luck, but now you begin to wonder. Quickly and quietly, you begin to count the number of spots on these two ladybugs.
Ladybugs may not actually bring good fortune, but it’s fun to think of the blessings that could arise from two ladybugs landing on you. Count their spots. Some people believe that these predict how many years of good luck you’ll have. Others think that they indicate the number of months until your greatest wish comes true. Pick whichever one works best for you.
What Is a Ladybug?
A ladybug, also known as a ladybird beetle in Great Britain, is of the insect order Coleoptera. There are approximately 5,000 species of this beetle in the world and beetles, believe it or not, make up one out of every four animals on Earth. In North America, the most popular ladybug is the seven-spotted black-and-red ladybug. Their name originates from the Middle Ages, when farmers would call upon the Virgin Mary to protect their crops from being destroyed by pests and ladybugs miraculously came to the rescue, wiping out the invading insects. The beetle was thus dedicated to the Virgin Mary and named "beetle of Our Lady." The name was eventually shortened to "lady beetle" and "ladybug."
Ladybugs have oval, dome-shaped bodies and six short legs. Depending on their species, they may have spots, stripes, or no markings at all. Their species also define what color they are, perhaps red, orange, yellow, pink, or white. Ladybugs have black heads with white patches on either side.
What Is the Life Cycle of a Ladybug?
It all begins with an egg. The mama ladybug deposits her tiny eggs in yellow clusters on a plant near a colony of aphids (little garden pests that damage many plants); aphids are a favorite food. To prevent any hunger issues among her larvae babies, scientists believe that ladybugs actually lay both fertile and infertile eggs. This way, if the aphids are in limited supply, the newly hatched larvae have infertile eggs to feast on.
The eggs hatch into larvae that resemble tiny alligators, with elongated, spiny bodies, bumpy exoskeletons, and legs that protrude from their sides. These alligator-shaped larvae are voracious eaters, consuming 350 to 400 aphids in the period that it takes them to become fully grown, spanning about two weeks.
After this gorging and growth period, the larvae enter into the pupal stage. They find a beautiful little green leaf and then attach themselves to it, staying put throughout the duration of this stage. Here, the ladybug’s body undergoes a remarkable metamorphosis in which their body is broken down and reformed into an adult ladybug.
When the metamorphosis is complete, the skin of the larvae splits open and the ladybug emerges. The ladybug, though, isn’t quite her (or his) beautiful self yet. She’ll need a few hours for her cuticle to harden and to gain pigment. Once an adult, a ladybug may live to celebrate their first birthday. He or she will hibernate and begin mating in the spring.
Where Do Ladybugs Live?
Ladybugs are content in various habitats, including your garden, agricultural fields, grasslands, forests, cities, suburbs, or near flowing water. Known for their voracious appetites, as a hungry ladybug can devour over 50 aphids a day (and 5,000 in their lifetime), they enjoy living where there is an abundance of aphids and other delicious (at least to ladybugs) plant-eating insects.
If you find a ladybug in your home, it could be looking for a place to overwinter. Our cozy, warm, and dry homes make perfect wintertime homes for these beetles to wait out the cold season, as ladybugs can’t survive the cold. These cold-blooded insects require external heat to remain at the right temperature. If a winter is not too harsh or too long, ladybugs can and do survive outdoors too, finding shelter under tree bark or in the knots and nooks of trees.
If you find a colony of beetles in your home, they have signaled to their friends, through emitting a trail of pheromones, that they have found that perfect overwintering spot. This may be in the corner of your attic or basement or near your doors or windows.
What do Ladybugs Eat?
Adult ladybugs, like their larvae, feed on soft-bodied insects. In doing so, they help to protect crops. In addition to teeny sap-sucking insects such as aphids, ladybugs enjoy eating scale insects, adelgids, mites, and insect eggs. They also eat mealybugs, small caterpillars, whiteflies, psyllids, nectar, and pollen.
Are Ladybugs Toxic?
Ladybugs do not carry known human-transmittable diseases and aren’t poisonous. So, even if a ladybug bites you, which would feel more like a pinch, it is highly unlikely that any serious harm or injury will come to you. Their presence in your home isn’t likely to cause disease. The only issue is if you’re allergic to ladybugs.
How Do I Get Rid of Ladybugs?
Dr. Killigan’s Six Feet Under All-Natural Insect Killer Spray is a proven non-toxic method for removing your home of ladybugs. If you find that a colony of ladybugs has found protection in your home, welcoming in all of their relatives and friends, then we have the perfect solution for you. Six Feet Under contains no pyrethrins or other harsh chemicals, is safe to use in your kitchen and around your children and pets when used as directed, and also works against ants, cockroaches, flies, mosquitoes, moths, ticks, earwigs, silverfish and many more pests. Just spray and relax. You may need a broom and dustpan to take all of these little winged insects, now in their eternal resting place, outdoors.