Ladybugs, some people call them lady beetles or ladybird beetles. Funny thing is they are not all females!
Scientist have found over 5,000 different kinds (species) of ladybugs in the world with about 300 living in North America. They come in a variety of colors and have different numbers of spots depending on the “species”: orange, black, red and one place has pink ladybugs, many have spots, but some do not or they are reverse to what we know as a ladybug – they have black bodies with orange spots.
Ladybugs are “omnivores” they eat both plants and animals.
The ladybugs found around here are “beneficial”, farmers and gardeners, like them because they eat other plant eating insects, especially aphids. One ladybug can eat about 75 aphids /day.
Ladybugs don’t taste good. They can secrete a fluid from the joints in their legs which give them a yucky taste. Their color is a reminder to “predators” that they don’t taste good. Some animals have “evolved” so they so they can cope with the taste or perhaps they just eat them quickly. Predators: birds such as swallows, crows and mockingbirds; insects such as dragonflies, praying mantis, ants and parasitic wasps; spiders like the cellar spider and even other ladybugs. There is even a plant that eats them – the Venus flytrap
Ladybugs only live about 2-3 years, but they go through four stages of “metamorphosis” – egg, larva, pupa, adult. During the winter they hibernate together as adults to stay warm, under leaves or rocks, sometimes even in the crevices (holes) of trees or under the shingles of your house. In the spring they wake up, look for aphids to eat, find a mate and lay more eggs under leaves.
Activity: Make Ladybug Prints
You’ll need a potato (cut in half), paint in ladybug colors (red, orange, or yellow), a paper plate, art paper, a black marker, and a black ink pad.
Put some of the paint on the paper plate and dip the round, cut end of one half of the potato into the paint, then press it firmly onto your paper like a stamp to make a ladybug’s body.
Stamp as many ladybugs onto your paper as you want. Once the paint dries, you can finish your picture by using your thumbprint in the black ink to make a head and your pinky finger to make spots.
Use the marker to give your ladybugs wings, legs, and antennae. You might want to use other paints or markers to draw leaves, aphids, and larvae on your picture also.