Ohio's State Insect - Ladybug
In 1975, the Ohio government selected the ladybug as Ohio's official insect. Actually, what many people call a ladybug is really a ladybird beetle – as true bugs are in a totally different order of insects than beetles. There are many different species of ladybird beetles found in Ohio today. The State Legislature never designated a particular species of ladybird beetle, but one frequently considered as an Ohio native is the Convergent Ladybird Beetle, Hippodamia convergens. According to the Ohio General Assembly's resolution, the ladybug:
is symbolic of the people of Ohio—she is proud and friendly, bringing delight to millions of children when she alights on their hand or arm to display her multi-colored wings, and she is extremely industrious and hardy, able to live under the most adverse conditions and yet retain her beauty and charm, while at the same time being of inestimable value to nature.
Ladybird beetles exist in all of Ohio's eighty-eight counties – with more than 450 species in North America. Only two common ladybird beetles eat plants – the pestivorous Mexican Bean Beetle, Epilachna varivestis and the Squash Beetle, Epilachna borealis. Most ladybird beetles, are ferocious predators, eating small pests, such as aphids, greatly assisting Ohio's farmers and gardeners by reducing the needs for insecticides. New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Delaware have also designated the ladybug as their state bug or insect.
Beginning in the 1990s, many Ohioans began to view Ohio's official insect as a nuisance. This view, however, was a case of mistaken identification. The real culprite was an introduced exotic, the Multicolored Asian Ladybeetle, Harmonia axyridis. Many species of ladybird beetles overwinter by hibernating as adults. As winter approaches, the Multicolored Asian Ladybeetle commonly try to enter the cracks of homes to find shelter from the cold temperatures. Thousands of ladybugs can descend upon a home. Asian ladybeetles generally do not injure humans but they do often become a nuisance by emitting an acrid odor, leaving yellowish stains, and increasing allergies for some people. Fortunately, after two or three years of the initial mass invasion of the Multicolored Asian Ladybeetle reaches an area, their numbers seem to drop off significantly. Even more fortunately, the vast majority of ladybird beetles are welcome and beneficial insects when they intereact with our lives.