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Ladybugs (also called lady birds and lady beetles) are small, oval-shaped winged insects. These shiny insects are usually red with black spots or black with red spots on the wing covers. The number of spots identifies the type of ladybug. Most ladybugs are less than 1/4 inch (4-8 mm) long. As ladybugs age, the color of the spots fade. Birds are the major predator of the ladybug. Ladybugs will play dead when threatened.
These tiny predators are usually very welcome in gardens because ladybug larvae and adults eat aphids, mealy bugs, and mites (which are garden pests). Ladybug larvae can eat about 25 aphids a day; adults can eat over 50. There are about 5,000 different species of ladybugs throughout the world. A common species is the two-spotted ladybug; it is orange red with one black spot on each wing cover.
Ladybugs are winged insects (a type of beetle). When they are not flying, the flight wings are covered and protected by a pair of modified wings (called elytra). When flying, the elytras open up, allowing the wings to move. The area above the elytra is called the pronotum (it is part of the thorax). The pronotum frequently has grayish spots on it. The head of the ladybug is very tiny (and frequently confused with the pronotum). Females are larger than males.
Ladybugs live in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, grasslands, gardens, and even in people’s houses.