|Pink-spotted Lady Beetle - Coleomegilla maculata|
Family Coccinellidae - Lady Beetles
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Live adult ladybug photographed at DuPage County, Illinois. Size: 4mm
Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybird beetles, are actually beetles in the Coleoptera family Coccinellidae. As insects go, they are a very beneficial group, being natural enemies of many insects, especially aphids and other critters that damage plants by feeding on their sap. A single ladybug can consume vast quantities of aphids in its lifetime, perhaps as many as 5,000 or more. There is a brisk business in commercial ladybugs for aphid control, and some of the species found here in North America are actually "invasives" brought from Europe or Asia for such purpose. Coccinella septempunctata, the seven-spotted ladybug, sometimes called ‘C-7', is a medium-sized, orange beetle with seven black spots. It is a European species that was introduced into the US to aid in managing some aphid pests.
Adult ladybugs have convex, hemispherical shaped elytra (the hardened wings used to cover the soft flying wings underneath) that can be yellow, pink, orange, red, or black, and usually are marked with distinct spots. This is a type of warning coloration (aposematic coloring), thought to discourage predators. Lady beetles also have another defense: an odorous fluid that seeps out of their leg joints when the insects are disturbed.
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Order Coleoptera: Beetles are the dominant form of life on earth: one of every five living species is a beetle. Coleoptera is the largest order in the animal kingdom, containing a third of all insect species. There are about 400,000 known species worldwide, ~30,000 of which live in North America. Beetles live in nearly every habitat, and for every kind of food, there's probably a beetle species that eats it.
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