Article originally written by Keshab Kr Budhathoki , B.Sc Ag, IAAS
What’s with the name?
According to the European legend, when crops were destroyed by swarms of aphids, the farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary to send help. It was then these red bug with black spots were seen, who ate aphids and saved the crops. Hence, these were named our lady s beetle and eventually came to known as lady bugs.
Some interesting facts about lady bug
Total species about 5000
All over the world except Antarctica far northern region of Europe , north America and Asia. Natural habitat of ladybugs is areas of dense vegetation, such as forest, meadows, weed patches and gardens.
Life span : average 2 to 3 years
Size : ranging from 0.8 to 18 millimeters
Body colors :
They are commonly red, orange, or yellow with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, heads and antennae.
As well as the usual colorings, some lady bug species are black white, gray, brown, pink and blue. Also some species can have stripes or no marking at all.
1.Antennae : helps in smell taste and feel its way around
2.Legs: total legs six help it to walk but they do more than that. Also helps to smell
Two pair of wings.Fore wings are strong and protect the back wings . A ladybugs rear or back wings are fly. It can beat its wings about 5100 times a minute or about 85 beats a second when it flies. As cold blooded species lady bugs are mainly are diurnal, utilizing as much sunlight as possible for feeding and mating. During winter undergoes hibernation and thousand of lady bird may gather in same location, taking advantages of collective warmth of colony. They can communicate with each other mainly through chemical signal
Ways of defense
When they threatened, the bugs will secrete an oily, foul-tasting fluid from joints in their legs they may also play dead.
Their distinctive spots and attractive colors are means to make them unpalatable to predator.
Fig: External body parts of ladybug
Lifecycle of ladybug:
Mating & reproduction: They reproduce sexually; each species has its own pheromones for attracting a mate when they find each other the male grips the female from behind and holds tight .They copulate for more than 2 hours.
How do we know the male from female??
- It is almost impossible to distinguish the male female for normal persons. But there are some clues-
|Female lady bug|
a. Larger in size
b. Do not have notch on last sternite
c. Do not have lots of setae , just a little.
d.Do not have large flexor
e. Shorter antennae
Male lady bug
a. Smaller in size
b. Have a notch in sternite
c. They have lots of setae on last segment
d.Larger flexor bands between sternite
Female may produce up to 1,000 eggs (in life time) underside of leaf to protect from predators, environmental conditions.They lay eggs where foods are available for the larvae. They can lay both fertile and infertile eggs and infertile eggs will consume by newly hatch larvae if there scarce of foods
In about four days the ladybug larvae emerge from the eggs.It looks like tiny l alligators and spiny. The elongated body and remains attach with the leaves. It undergoes molting through four instar or larvae stage.
Pupa: This is resting stage. It finds a leaf to attach itself to fall sleep for a few days and adult ladybug emerge from it
Adult: it is final stage at which they can fly and restart to eat bugs and other insects
Lady bird in Space:
- In 1999, NASA sent four lady bugs into space with some aphids to see what happens in zero gravity. Scientist knows that lady bugs climb up stalk to eat aphids. Gravity helps the aphid fall of the stalks to escape the lady bug. In the space scientist wanted to see if aphids could get way without the help of gravity .By the end of the mission, the lady bird did survive and were able to eat aphids in the space. They named the lady bugs after the beatsles, John, Paul, Ringo, and Gorge.
Popular myths and legends associated with lady bugs and luck
Western culture highly respects lady bug and takes its presence as a sign of luck, prosperity, and success. In fact, some people also associate its presence as a totem.
- In Europe, Lady bug considered as Virgin Mary if bug is seen with seven spots these spot consider to be the seven sorrows / joys of Virgin Mary. To kill a ladybug is therefore; consider to be bad luck because of its religious association and to flourish the population of ladybug to save crops from the pests such as aphids.
Time for newness in life
- In some culture it is believed that if ladybug is seen sitting on an object, it is a sign that every object will be replaced by a new and improved version. For instance if you see ladybug crawling in your car consider that and upgrade is about happening soon. Similarly if ladybug come in the house when person is sick it takes away the sickness in house.
Good harvest or famine
- Folks of Northern Germany consider that arrival of ladybug with less than 7 spots there will be good harvest but arrival of ladybug with more than 7 spots consider as signal of famine that is soon to come.
Love, Marriage and children
- It is believed to take a note of the direction from which the ladybug flies away after crawling on your hand. It is said that it is from that direction that your true loves comes into your life.
- In Sweden it is believed that if a ladybug is found crawling on the hand of young woman, it means that is taking the measurement for weeding gloves, which indicates the girl will be married in near future.
- There is belief in central Europe in Burgundy if a ladybug land on the woman is asked to count the no. of spots on the ladybug .That the nom. Is same as the no of babies that woman will bear in her life time.
Fulfillment of Dreams
- In Canada, it is said that when a lady bug is found wintering in ones garage, it is an indication of good luck .It is an indication good luck it is also common practices to hold the ladybug in ones hand and make a wish. The direction at which ladybug flies is known to be the direction from which your wish come true.
- Some sources also state that if a ladybug lands on your hand on Sunday till you count 22 then good luck is on its way
Good wine and Weather
- In French and Australia it is believe that spotting the ladybug in their vineyard is signal of good weather, good harvest and good wine
Role of ladybug in agricultural crop production:
In organic farming ladybug has important role in insect and pest management. Some studies tell that single lady bug can eat 5,000 aphids in its life cycle. So it reduces the use of the chemical pesticides for controlling the some harmful pests and insects it economically and environmentally friendly.
Asian ladybirds are aggressive they can bite when they get disturb and harmful to some animals.
Some unusual ladybug species: