Ladybugs are cute, often toted as harbingers of good luck in popular culture, but there's a lot more to these insects than meets the eye.
Often, different types of ladybugs are used as natural pesticides to help control the aphid population, which is an insect that can harm wheat and other crops.
Still, not all ladybugs are created equal, so you'll want to be aware of all the different types of ladybugs. Some may even damage your well-curated garden if you're not careful.
If you're looking for more information on ladybugs, here's everything you need to know about these happy-go-lucky insects, including the different types, their habitat, and why you should be using them in your garden, fields, and any other grasslands you want to keep safe from harm.
Types of Ladybugs
Ladybugs are members of the insect family Coccinellidae. They're omnivorous, feeding on other insects, plants, and grasslands alike, though the type of ladybug will impact its diet. Ladybugs typically live between 2-3 years in the wild, though they'll live a bit longer in captivity. It takes about four weeks for them to mature.
Here are six of the most common ladybugs that you'll find outside, most of which are friendly to crops and people alike.
The two-spotted ladybug is red with two big spots on its back. They are cannibalistic, so while they eat aphids, they also eat each other. They are primarily used in Western Europe in greenhouses and fields as a natural pesticide. The limited number of spots is what gives this bug away.
Seven-spotted ladybugs are bright red with seven black spots on their bodies. They are the most common ladybug in Europe, which is great for farmers as their preferred diets are the crop-harming aphids. Seven-spotted ladybugs can also be called the C-7 beetle, so you'll want to watch them as the ideal natural pesticide.
Unlike the 2- and 7-spotted ladybugs, the 13-spotted ones can be red or orange, with 13 black spots on their backs. They are dome-shaped, with short legs, antennae, and covered wings. They are bred on leaves in larger groups. They feed on aphids in the summer months before hibernation.
The Asian ladybug can come in various colors, including red, orange, yellow, and black. Whatever color they are, the Asian ladybug will always have white markings on its head in the shape of an M.
As the weather gets colder, they'll start to seek shelter and prepare for hibernation, earning them the nickname of "harlequin lady beetle" or "Halloween ladybug" because they will try to move indoors.
Asian ladybugs are typically found in North America despite their name, though sightings have begun in Europe. Their diet of choice is aphids.
The convergent, or Hippodamia convergens ladybug, is the most common type of ladybug. They have red, orange, or yellow bodies with black spots, and you'll find them in your garden, munching away on aphids to keep the population at bay.
Pink Spotted Ladybug
The pink spotted ladybug, or the Coleomegilla maculate, has a distinct pink body with black spots. Unlike other ladybugs, their diets are split between plant pollen and aphids. So you may want to select another breed if you're looking for the most effective pest control.
Ladybugs are versatile insects that can be found worldwide, including North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. They hate the winter, so the only continent you'll not find these bugs on is Antarctica!
Their diets make them great natural pesticides, killing crop-harming aphids and feeding on dry, rough foliage and other plant materials.
You'll find ladybugs in various grasslands, including gardens, shrubs, fields, meadows, and pastures.
Ladybugs will seek out nutrient-rich areas to lay their eggs, so look for the long, spindle-like eggs to be laid in batches of 15 to 30 near aphid nests. However, different species can lay more or fewer eggs. In total, ladybugs will typically lay between 200-300 eggs per cycle.
Ladybugs secrete a liquid from their joints to keep them safe from predators. Each winter, they hibernate in groups, ready to emerge again in the spring and take on the aphid population.
Benefits of Ladybugs
Because ladybugs eat other bugs like aphids, they can actually benefit your garden. Farmers often introduce them intentionally to reduce the destructive insects that harm their crops. When used like this, ladybugs, as a natural pesticide, reduce the harmful chemicals used on wheat and other crops. While crops that have been treated with chemical pesticides are typical, the fewer chemicals you can add to your diet, the better.
It's estimated that a single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids and other insects in its lifespan. Because of this, there are conservation methods in place to ensure they continue to play their important ecological role as global warming can impact their habitats.
Dangers of Ladybugs
When introducing ladybugs into your fields, make sure that the ladybugs are crop-friendly! You'll cause more harm than good if you bring the wrong ones. Avoid the Mexican bean beetle and squash beetle. They can damage crops, and you'll need to use pesticides to get rid of these insects, defeating the purpose in the first place. You'll have both aphids and ladybugs to contend with!
All things Ladybugs
Ladybugs play an important role in popular culture. In Brussels, it's said that if a ladybug lands on you, count the spots. That will tell you how many children you will have! Other cultures say it will bring you money based on the number of spots. At the same time, farmers use the spots to foretell their next crop – and less than seven spots are good, though we know that's completely dependent on the type of ladybug.
Ladybugs are thought to be excellent luck, so count your blessings and their spots the next time one lands on you, and good fortune is sure to be on its way.