I always get excited whenever I come across a ladybird – an adorable bug we used to refer to as ‘Volkswagen’ as kids because of its uncanny likeness to the VW beetle.
- Ladybirds or Lady Beetles are named after Our Lady, the Virgin Mary. The red colour is said to represent the red cloak Mary was depicted wearing in old paintings. The seven spots in some of the species are for her seven joys and seven sorrows.
- The bright colors of ladybirds have evolved to act as a warning mechanism. Ladybirds are unpalatable to most predators and the warning colors advertise this.
- When ladybirds are attacked they ooze a horrid goo called reflex blood from their knees, which contains toxins and tastes unpleasant. Not surprisingly, this stops ants, birds and other predators from eating them.
- There are over 5,000 species of ladybirds all over the world.
- Females on average are larger than males.
- Most species of ladybird are predatory – eating sap-sucking plant pests, particularly aphids.
- The appetite of the ladybird is quite remarkable. An adult female Convergent ladybird may consume up to 75 aphids a day while the smaller male may consume up to 40.
- Rumored to have medicinal properties, Newell (1845) reports ladybirds to be a cure for measles and colic.
- The ladybird was regarded historically as a magical animal – it is supposed to predict the weather and happiness, cure toothache and increase potency.
PS: A sexually transmitted disease has infested a scarce species of British ladybird – a disease the insect seems to have picked up from hanging around wood ants, scientists told a European conference. Read more…
May you have a magical day – filled with good weather and happiness, no toothache, and the potency of your choice!