Ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata).
Four ladybugs were sent into space in 1999 on NASA's space shuttle. Ladybugs and their main food, aphids, a small sap sucking insect that can be very destructive on cultivated plants, were sent to a zero-gravity environment to study how aphids could get away from the ladybugs without being able to jump using gravity. The study proved that ladybugs were able to catch their prey without the help of gravity. They are also known as Lady Beetles and Ladybird beetles.
There are 5,000 different species of these insects. Round, semi-circle shaped with stubby legs and antennae, tiny heads, 0.3 to 0.4 inches in size. Range in color from red to yellow with black dots. Dots and their amount vary from species to species. Coloring is reversed on some species; black with red splotches. Larvae do not resemble adults. Usually blue with black or orange stripes, three sets of legs, longer bodies. The growth from larve to adult can take as little as 7 to 14 days. Ladybugs have three main defenses against predators. Brightly colored bodies warn predators that it is poisonous, even though they are not. They secrete a bad tasting fluid when attacked which makes them an unwanted prey. And, they can play dead until the danger passes.
Leafy vegetation, shrubs and trees. In fall and winter, they follow leaf drops to the ground. Autumnal habitats become leaf litter. They may overwinter under leaf litter or move into homes. Like bears, hibernate in the winter. Usually come together in large groups and sleep on mountains and areas of high elevation.
Found just about anywhere in the world. North America (excluding arctic region) to the tip of South America. East to Europe and Asia (excluding arctic regions) and south to Africa and Australia.
Omnivore: eating aphids, plant mites and other small insects. They supplement their diet when necessary with broccoli, milkweed and other plants that attract aphids. They move on once they eat all the aphids. Most adults and larvae are valued by farmers since they eat a variety of plant-damaging insects.
2 to 3 years (in the wild)
Lay eggs on aphid infested leaves. Lay clusters of eggs that include extra infertile eggs mixed in with the fertile. These behaviors help to ensure the larvae has enough food to last until it becomes an adult.
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