Perhaps, children have seen these amazing creatures resting on leaves. Or, sometimes, children may see them flying around parks and gardens. Some children may even hold them in their hands.
Ladybugs are spectacular wonders of nature. They like to feed on particular insects called aphids. Aphids can destroy plants. But ladybugs can eat about 5,000 of these pests and other insects.
Ladybugs or Coccinella septempunctata are considered beetles more than anything else. In fact, they have their traditional spots and 2 sets of wings. However, some ladybugs = mariquitas may have a few spots, one spot, or no spots at all. Some ladybugs can be orange, yellow or the typical red color.
But how do ladybugs emerge as tiny little insects of nature?
Ladybugs have typical characteristics of insects. They have 6 legs and 3 main body parts –
- the head = cabeza,
- the thorax = tórax, and
- the abdomen = abdomen.
It also has a head, eyes and antenna. Sets of 2 pair of wings = alas are connected to the thorax. But ladybugs have to undergo a physical transformation to become the typical beetle.
Ladybugs have 4 stages in their lifecycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult.
In the egg stage, adult ladybugs can lay up to 1000 eggs in nearby leaves. In a protected environment of shrubs or hidden leaves, these eggs will begin to hatch in about a few days. At this point, they do not look at all like a typical ladybug and they start to eat their eggshells.
If the plants have aphids, they will begin to eat these microscopic pests. Now, the larva will begin to consume as much insects or aphids as possible. Its mission is to feed and ingest as many insects as it can.
Within the larva stage, a molting process occurs. Molting is the shedding of the skin as an animal increases in size. Ladybugs will molt = muda 3 or 4 times in their lifecycle.
Ladybugs will stop eating and seek a place to form a pupa. At the pupa stage, ladybugs will find a secluded and safe place to attach itself to the branch or leaf. Here, the pupa will form a hardening case. In this casing, the pupa will remain there for about 7 days. Its wings will begin to develop and all the other physical characteristics of an insect will take form.
At the adult stage, a tiny spotless ladybug emerges from its casing. It will develop its spots, if any, in about a few hours. Most ladybugs will also use their wings to explore their surroundings. By having 2 sets of wings, it allows them to fly from plant to plant in search of aphids very quickly. However, they do have predators.
As a matter of fact, the defense mechanism of ladybugs is their red color and obnoxious smell. To some predators, the red color indicates toxic or dangerous. They can release an intolerable smell when they feel threaten. Also, ladybugs like to play dead by turning upside down when predators approach. Another amazing fact is ladybugs are able to swim, if needed to escape a predator.
Ladybugs can actually live for many years. They thrive during the spring and summer seasons. And, during winter, they tend to either migrate to warmer climate or find refuge underneath rocks or trees. But no matter where they are, children and adults are always amazed about these fascinating tiny little insects.