They are said to bring good luck. They are vegetarian, colourful and inspiring for their sympathy, they are used in organic farming. But ladybugs are also formidable predators, emitting toxic and flatulent substances. Let’s find out some overlooked facts about these cute and fascinating beetles.
Some things about ladybugs, which not everyone knows
Ladybugs are insects of the same family as beetles. They are characterized, on average, by a coloured livery, which allows the predators to be kept wide open.
The armour is made up of a pair of elite wings, which are hard, and spotted wings that completely protect the abdomen and chest at rest.
The body, of hemispherical or ovoidal shape, features a small head with short and clad antennas. The mouth apparatus is very sophisticated and has 6 articulated legs.
It is precisely the legs that make up one of the main weapons for defending the ladybirds.
Thanks to a system called reflex-bleeding, the ladybugs emit a repellent odour from the joints. Together with the bad smell, a liquid is also released: it is harmless for humans, but toxic to small predators such as lizards and birds. If that is not enough, ladybugs defend themselves by tucking their legs and folding their wings tightly against their bodies, making it impossible to catch them.
There are only 6,000 varieties of ladybugs worldwide. They normally feed on plants and fungi. Some are also entomophagous, or insect gluttony, we might also say. These beetles are helpful in biological control, as they often feed on aphids, cochineals, mites and citrus cotton.
The life cycle of the ladybugs
Ladybugs tend to lay eggs in small groups, sometimes on the bodies of their preys. Fertile eggs also include non-fertile specimens, which serve as a feed for larvae with 4 growth stages. After the deposition, the females return to hunt but stay in the surroundings. Therefore, if they return to the place where the eggs are found, they are able to eat them.
The larvae are also cannibals. They have an elongated, spotted and sometimes dark body. They do not have wings but are often equipped with sclerified plates.
The puppet stadium is only one. In this phase, the insect takes on the convex form, but preserves the remains of the larva’s exoskeleton in moulting, which often serves as a protective layer.
Ladybugs are skillful predators. They are particularly voracious, even at the larval stage.
One of the most curious characteristics of ladybugs is their ability to adapt to adverse conditions. If necessary, these insects can change their diet and become consumers of sugary liquids, fruits, pollen and specimens of the same family or species.
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