Everyone knows the ladybug, but do you know the ladybird beetle (Coccinellidae sp.)? This is the true name of this beautiful insect. Ladybirds are beetles (Family Coleoptera) and not true bugs (family Hemiptera). The ladybug is an incorrect nickname or common name that is used.
They are an oval shaped beetle, usually red with black spots or black with red spots. There are 5,000 different species of ladybirdss, including the convergent and nine-spotted. The number of spots identifies the species. As ladybird beetles age, their spots begin to fade.
Ladybird beetles go through a complete metamorphosis. Females lay eggs which hatch into larvae after six days. The larvae, which look like tiny alligators, "shed" their skin several times before they attach to leaf or stem, where they will open their exoskeleton and pupae emerge. The adults form in just a few days. Adults average less than a quarter inch in length.
Typical ladybirds habitat includes weeds and plants with a sufficient food source. Their beauty sometimes masks the fact that they are excellent predators. Gardeners encourage ladybirds in gardens because both the larvae and the adult eat a number of garden pests, including mealy bugs, mites and, in particular, aphids. Larvae can eat up to twenty-five aphids, and adults up to fifty, per day. A single ladybird, using its chewing mouth parts, can eat up to 5,000 insects in its lifetime.
Because of its beauty and beneficial traits, the ladybird beetle was designated Ohio's state insect in 1975. Part of the legislature that made this proclamation states
Its striking beauty is symbolic of the beauty that characterizes many regions of Ohio; …and is symbolic of the efforts Ohio is making to preserve our ecology; and last but not least the queenly Ladybug is symbolic of the people of Ohio - she is proud and friendly, . . .