Pink-spotted Lady Beetle – Coleomegilla maculata
Family Coccinellidae – Lady Beetles
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.
Coleomegilla maculata larva feeding on plum flower pollen
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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