Ladybirds are called Ladybugs in the US. In Europe they are alse referred to as lady beetles.
Facts about ladybirds
- Ladybirds are generally considered useful insects and one of the greatest allies of the farmer and the gardener as many species feed on aphids or scale insects, which are pests in gardens, agricultural fields, orchards, and similar places. They are nature’s own ‘pest’ controllers and are more effective than poisonous chemicals.
- Their bright colour and pattern not only make them attractive visitors to the garden, but also help to protect them by warning potential predators of their distastefulness. They exude an unpleasant yellow substance (reflex blood) from their leg joints when attacked which is rich in toxic alkaloids. Their colouring is likely a reminder to any animals that have tried to eat their kind before: "I taste awful." A threatened ladybird may both play dead and secrete the unappetizing substance to protect itself.
- Ladybirds lay hundreds of eggs in the colonies of aphids and other plant-eating pests. When they hatch, the ladybird larvae immediately begin to feed. By the end of its three-to-six-week life, the larvae may eat some 5,000 aphids.
- They are commonly yellow, orange, or scarlet with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, head and antennae. However, a very large number are mostly, or entirely, black, grey, or brown. Conversely, there are many small beetles that are easily mistaken for ladybirds, such as the tortoise beetles. Not all ladybirds have spots - some are striped.
- Ladybugs in temperate areas usually hibernate through the winter as adults often in large groups. Millions of them come together in parts of the southwestern USA, where they cover the ground in a brilliant blanket.
- There are 46 species of ladybird resident in Britain and the recent arrival of the harlequin ladybird has the potential to jeopardise many of these. The Harlequin Ladybird Survey will monitor its spread across Britain and assess its impact on native ladybirds.
- Ladybirds have been introduced to other areas of the world for the purpose of pest control e.g. in California at the turn of the century when a ladybird of the species Rhodalia cardinalis, imported from Australia, saved the citrus industry from the cottony cushion scale bug.
- Ladybirds are called Ladybugs in the US. In Europe they are alse referred to as lady beetles. They have many regional names (now mostly disused) in the UK such as the lady-cows, may-bug, golden-knop, golden-bugs (Suffolk); and variations on Bishop-Barnaby (Norfolk dialect) – Barnabee, Burnabee, the Bishop-that-burneth, and bishy bishy barnabee.
- A common myth is that the number of spots on the insect's back indicates its age.
- Throughout the world superstition states that it is unlucky to kill a ladybird and there are myths surrounding their good fortune.
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