Ladybirds are beetles.

There are many kinds of ladybird.

They are different colours.

They have spots on their shell.

The wings are kept under the shell.

Ladybirds are a kind of beetle. Beetles are insects. They have 3 parts to their bodies: head, thorax and abdomen. They have wings. The front part of the wings is hard and covers both the delicate back part of the wings and the abdomen when the beetles are not flying. They have 6 legs which are joined to the thorax (the middle part) of their bodies. The legs are short and are usually hidden under their bodies. They have antennae with a little knob on the end. This kind of antennae is called clubbed antennae.

Ladybirds are called different names, such as ladybug, ladybird beetles and lady beetles.

There are about 4,500 different species, or kinds, of ladybird in the world. They are different sizes, colors and patterns. Sizes are from 1 to 10mm, depending on the kind of ladybird. Females are often larger than males.

Most kinds of ladybird are useful to humans because they eat tiny insect pests. They feed on very small insects such as aphids, scale insects and mites. A few species are pests themselves however, and eat plants.

Adult ladybirds are oval and domed in shape, and most kinds are brightly colored. The bright color warns predators that ladybirds do not taste nice, and may even be rather poisonous to eat. Ladybirds can ooze a bad smelling fluid from their leg joints as a further warning to birds and animals that try to eat them.

Life cycle
Female ladybirds lay eggs in groups of about 10-50 on leaves, near aphids, an insect pest. The eggs are pale yellow.

When the eggs hatch, the larvae are grey or black (one baby is a larva, and lots are larvae). Later on, they may be grey, black, or blue with bright yellow or orange markings.

A ladybird larva feeding on aphids

Larvae usually have similar patterns to their parents, and many are spiky. They feed on small insects like the adult ladybirds do.

The larvae will change skin four times before they pupate, or turn into adults. This is because their skin doesn't grow. The skin splits and underneath there is a new skin, one size bigger. A ladybird pupa (more than one are pupae) is usually brightly colored and patterned and is attached to the plant where it fed and developed. When they pupate, the larvae do not make a cocoon, but remain unprotected.

Click here to see some photos of different kinds of ladybird

If you use any part of this, acknowledge it in your bibliography like this:
Sydenham, Shirley and Thomas, Ron. Ladybirds [Online] (2011)

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