Our Wild Neighbors

Ladybug or Lady Beetle

Coccinella novemnotata

Some species are more invasive than others

Image of a Nine-spotted Ladybug, dried and mounted, seen from above.

Description of the animal

  • Roughly 6000 species in the world, more than 150 living in Canada including 7 non-native ones.
  • Round shape, head almost invisible, club-shaped antennae.
  • Two pairs of wings. The first pair can be very colourful and forms the shell. It protects the second, more membranous pair used for flying.
  • Bright red and black in colour (in the case of the members of the subfamily Coccinellinae, which represent only about one third of the species). Most other Ladybugs are black or maroon.
  • Larvae are elongated, with three pairs of spindly legs near the head.
  • Species not identifiable by the pattern or number of spots; individuals of the same species can be very different.

Habitat and needs

  • Its bright red colour warns predators that it contains alkaloids, which give it a bad taste.
  • Defends itself by dropping to the ground and emitting a bitter-tasting yellow liquid and repulsive odour from its joints.
  • Lives on aphids, crickets, mealy bugs, mites, and other soft-bodied plant-eating bugs. A Ladybug can devour up to 500 aphids in a single day. A few species feed on mould.
  • Lays small clumps of eggs on plants, where the larvae will have access to food, for example, mould, eggs, aphids, or other plant-eating, soft-bodied insects.
  • Hibernates under the leaves or other plant debris at the base of trees. The body of the indigenous Ladybug produces a very effective anti-freeze liquid.

Relationship

  • The Ladybug is inoffensive: it doesn’t sting, bite, or carry any disease.
  • Several species play an important role in reducing populations of insect pests. Ladybugs are used in biological control.
  • Certain species, like the Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle and the Asian Lady Beetle, take shelter in buildings the moment the first cold days of fall arrive. Ladybugs by the hundreds can be found on the window frames of houses.

Living with them

  • Do not use insecticide in the house or garden. The Ladybug is a very skilled eliminator of aphids.
  • In the case of an infestation, use a broom or vacuum to collect Ladybugs and set them free outside. Don’t squish them because a smelly liquid will escape from their bodies.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen