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Ladybugs (also called lady birds and lady beetles) are small, oval-shaped winged insects. They 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 long. As ladybugs age, the color of the spots fade. 

Natural History

There are about 5000 species of ladybug throughout the world and they can survive in a variety of habitats, including forests, fields, grasslands, gardens, and even in people's houses. Like all beetles, the ladybug undergoes a complete metamorphosis during its life. The life stages of the ladybug are: egg > larva > pupa > adult. 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. Females are larger than males.

In cooler weather on mountain tops, ladybugs gather together in clumps to conserve heat.

Ladybug larvae and adults eat aphids, mealybugs, and mites. Ladybug larvae can eat about 25 aphids a day; adults can eat over 50. Female ladybugs lay tiny eggs, usually laid in a small mass. The larvae that hatch from the eggs are small and long and have 6 legs. As it rapidly grows, the larva molts (sheds its skin) several times. After reaching full size, the larva attaches itself to a plant leaf or stem. The larval skin then splits down the back, exposing the pupa. The pupa is about the size of the adult but is all wrapped up, protecting the ladybug while the it undergoes metamorphosis into its adult stage. This last stage in the metamorphosis takes a few days.

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