We’ve been having some very unseasonal weather lately, so, naturally, other unseasonal things have popped up, too. Here are some beans about those pretty and fierce ladybugs that have been roaming about the city this past week.
1. Ladybugs are not bugs at all. They don’t have that straw-shaped, beak-like mouthpart that true bugs use to suck out sap or blood from plants and people, respectively. This is why most entomologists prefer to call them lady beetles or ladybirds.
2. Despite lacking those bug beaks, lady beetles bite. And those bites hurt. In my experience, they’re usually pretty docile, but just keep in mind that they won’t hesitate to bite you if you’re honing in on their territories. They feed as soon as they are born, so if you’ve been bitten, maybe the baby ladies just found you too delicious to pass up.
3. Farmers HEART ladybugs big time. That’s because these ladies enjoy devouring meals of plant-eating insects that damage crops. Aphids, in particular, which find plants delicious, are, in turn, quite delicious to lady beetles.
4. Each specific kind of ladybug has its own specific colour and dot pattern, which are supposed to encourage predators to look away. Some unfortunate predator at the dawn of time must have eaten the very unpalatable ladybug and spread it through the grapevine that these dome-shaped, winged, speckled specks are very untasty [thanks to fluid secreted from their leg joints] and not worth the predator’s efforts. Even now, big bugs refrain from eating ladybugs by recognizing their spots. Yay for spots.
5. All ladybugs also sometimes secrete their yellow blood when they get stressed out. This blood can stain walls and clothing, but, even worse, it smells really bad. Clearly, ladybugs are not good to eat or smell … they’re really just eye candy, now that I think about it.
6. There are about 5000 different species that can live almost anywhere in the world that does not suffer from extremely cold temperatures. During the winter, ladybugs hibernate. So this mild start to November has effectively awakened them, who tend to live in groups, by the way, and they’ve been enjoying the sunshine and shorts-and-t-shirt weather just as much as we have.
7. Ladybug spots and domes come in all colours – not just black on red – and some have no spots at all. They only live for about a year, and they neither increase nor decrease their number of spots over their lifetimes.
8. Boy ladybugs are also called ladybugs. Life is funny that way.