Ladybug feeding on aphids. Photo by Greyson Orlando
The ladybug is the state insect of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio and Tennessee. In Massachusetts, it was a group of second graders from Kennedy School in Franklin who petitioned to make the ladybug their state's official insect.
Why ladybugs so popular?
Farmers and gardeners know how aphids, mites and scales can damage plants by sucking the sap from them. Ladybugs are beneficial because both adults and larvae prey on these pests.
The most common species is the convergent ladybug, which can be recognized by the 13 spots on its red to orange wings. Convergent ladybug larva eat their weight in aphids every day, and adults eat up to 50 aphids a day. Its larger European cousin, the seven-spot ladybug, has an even bigger appetite, devouring up to 300 aphids every day.
Bug or Beetle?
Ladybugs, or ladybirds, are not bugs at all. They are actually beetles.
Bugs have needle-like mouths that they use like straws to puncture their food so they can suck out nectar, sap or animal fluids. Bugs may or may not have wings. If they do, their wings are thin, like membranes. Baby bugs look like mini adult bugs...without the wings.
Beetles have chewing mouth parts, and feed on a wide range of plants and animals. Adult bugs have hard forewings that cover and protect the thin, membranous hindwings. And beetles, unlike bugs, undergo a complete metamorphosis. Beetle larvae, which look very different from adults, must enter a pupal stage before it transforms itself into an adult with hard outer wings.
Ladybugs gather in Mill Valley, California.
Photo by Kristopher Anderson.
- There are over 450 species of ladybugs in North America alone. Of these, two, the Mexican bean beetle and the squash beetle, feed on plants and are considered pests.
- Ladybugs spend the winter gathering in large groups beneath rocks, in leafy litter, or in hollowed trunks. In the spring they emerge to feed and find a place to lay their eggs.
Print and fold an Origami Ladybug:
1. Print and cut out Ladybug Origami along outer solid line.
2. With printed side facing down, fold in half diagonally as shown.
3a. Turn origami over.
3b. Fold wing down, as shown.
3c. Repeat on other side.
4. Turn origami over. Fold ladybug's head forward, as shown, then up, as shown.
5. Turn origami over. Fold corner of wing back, as shown.
6. Repeat on other side, folding corner of wing back. Finally, fold corner of abdomen back as shown.
More Ladybug Crafts:
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