How to Make a Ladybug Habitat Diorama
What do the ladybug dots mean?
They are available with two, five, seven or more points - but why do ladybugs have points? And what do they mean?
What do ladybugs look like?
Ladybugs are about six to eight millimeters large with a round, hemispherical body.
They are available in different colors such as yellow, red or black, each with different colored dots. Depending on the species, they have more or fewer points on their backs.
The seven-point ladybirds, which are common in Germany, have three points on each of the two wings; the seventh sits in the middle of the back at the transition from the pronotum to the back. The head, pronotum and legs are colored black. The tiny head has two short antennae.
Ladybugs have four wings: two skin wings, which are used to fly, and two hard cover wings, which protect the thin skin wings when the beetles are not flying.
With their six legs, they are pretty nimble.
The larvae of the seven-spotted ladybirds are elongated, bluish in color and patterned with light yellow spots.
Where do ladybugs live?
The seven-spotted ladybug is very widespread: it is found in Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America.
Ladybugs can be found everywhere: at the edges of forests, in meadows and of course in gardens. There they live on plants. Now and then they get lost in our houses and apartments.
What kinds of ladybugs are there?
There are around 4,000 different species of ladybirds in the world.
In Europe there are only 100 different species, in Germany there are around 80 species.
They all have a round, hemispherical body.
A well-known relative of our ladybugs is the Australian ladybug.
The little guy doesn’t have any black spots, but a black body.
Its head is colored orange and its wings are brown and lightly hairy.
How old do ladybugs get?
The different types of ladybirds can live differently. On average, ladybugs live one to two years, and they can live for a maximum of three years.
How do ladybugs live?
Many people believe that the number of spots on a ladybug's back tells you something about their age, but that is wrong.
Rather, the number of points depends on which species the ladybug belongs to; it remains the same for the entire life of the beetle.
The seven-point ladybird has seven points, other species, such as the two-point ladybird, only have two, and still others, such as the 22-point ladybird, have 22 points.
Researchers suggest that the ladybugs' bright colors and dots are intended to warn enemies of the toxins they secrete when in danger.
Ladybugs are also very useful insects. The adult beetles, but especially the ladybird larvae, have an enormous appetite for aphids.
A larva can eat around 30 of these plant pests per day, an adult beetle even up to 90.
A larva eats around 400 aphids during its developmental period, a beetle up to 5000 during its life.
If it gets cold in autumn, ladybugs hibernate in the leaves or moss.
When it gets warm again in spring, they crawl out of their hiding places.
Friends and enemies of the ladybug
The ladybird larvae are easy prey for birds and insects when they are newly hatched.
The adult beetles are sometimes attacked by the so-called ladybird brackish wasps. They lay their eggs under the wing covers of the beetles. A larva hatches from them, bores itself into the abdomen of the ladybird and feeds on its body fluids. Eventually, it also eats the beetle's vital organs, causing it to die.
Adult beetles are seldom eaten because they give off a foul-smelling and bitter-tasting liquid when in danger.
How do ladybugs reproduce?
The development of a ladybug from egg to larva and pupa to the finished beetle takes about one to two months in our climate. After mating, the female beetles lay several hundred eggs about 1.3 millimeters long, individually or in clumps of 20 to 40 pieces on the underside of leaves.
Usually they look for a place for the eggs near aphid colonies so that the offspring can quickly find something to eat after hatching.
When the larvae hatch from the egg, they first eat the egg shells. From then on, they mainly spend their life eating aphids. As they grow, their old skin becomes too tight and they have to shed their skin. After the third or fourth molt, the larvae pupate.
They stop eating and stick their abdomen to a leaf or a plant stem with the help of a body fluid.
So they sit still for up to two days and transform into a doll.
In the case of the seven-point ladybird, this pupa is initially yellow in color, then slowly turns orange in the course of its development and develops blackish spots.
Finally the beetle hatches from the pupa. At first it is quite light in color and only gets its typical red color with the black dots after a few hours.
Most ladybugs reproduce once a year; if it is very warm, however, twice.
What do ladybugs eat?
Ladybugs and their larvae are predators: they feed on insects. Their favorite prey are aphids and scale insects.
The appetite of the ladybirds is used in biological pest control: native ladybirds are particularly useful as aphid eaters.
Australian ladybirds, on the other hand, are used specifically against pests such as mealybugs and scale insects. The beetles are specially bred and released in greenhouses.
They feel very comfortable there because they are used to high temperatures from their home in Australia.
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