This ‘week’s’ bug of the week from Nicole Kiem is certainly one most of us come across often. So, here is interesting information about ladybugs you might not be aware of…
Bug of the Week
This week’s bug of the week is the amazing ladybug! There are lots of regional names for ladybugs, such as lady beetles, lady clocks, lady birds, and even lady cows. If you’ve noticed that all of these have the word “lady” in common, that’s because that part of their name comes from a story about how they were given to the Earth by the Virgin Mary. Technically though, ladybugs are beetles, not bugs, making lady beetle the correct term.
Lady beetles are incredibly variable and expansive insects. There are over 5000 species of lady beetle worldwide and no two species are alike. They can be red, yellow, orange, gray, pink, or even blue, and can have spots, stripes, or squiggles. Some are just solid colors with no markings; this is because these are hybrids. Lady beetles also have two sets of wings; the hard top pair that you usually see, and another pair folded underneath that they use to fly.
When flying, lady beetles beat their wings 85 times every second and can travel as many as 74 miles in a single flight. Lady beetles can’t see very well and can really only differentiate between light and dark, so they navigate largely using their antenna, also using their feet to smell! (Which gives new meaning to the phrase smelly feet!) They can also live for two to three years, hibernating during the winter in huge groups. Lady beetles eat aphids and other pests and can eat as many as 5000 of them in their lifetime, making them a very good addition to your garden.
Lady beetles are also considered lucky, which might be why NASA has sent them to space! (Although it might’ve been to watch them hunt in micro-gravity) All in all, lady beetles are amazing little creatures no matter what name you call them by, and helpful to boot. Maybe next time you come across one of these wonderful little insects you’ll have some fun facts about them to share with your friends.