Ladybirds (Coccinella septempunctata) are beetles (Coleoptera). They belong to the Coccinellidae family and are also known as “ladybugs”.
They can reach 6 mm in length and feed on pest insects, which is why they are very popular with farmers.
A ladybird has a small head located underneath the prothorax and contracting antennas. Its wings are covered by elytra which are red with seven black spots.
The scientific name of the ladybird derives from this characteristic (Latin coccineus means scarlet). Generally, ladybirds are oval-shaped and some species are yellow with black spots. When they are fully-formed insects, they can also feed on nectar in the case of a food shortage. Some adult ladybirds can consume thousands of aphids during their lifetime and their larvae are also voracious.
Additionally, ladybirds feed on many other harmful bugs and this is why farmers welcome them during harvest.
In winter time, adult ladybirds hibernate in dry and protected areas. As days become warmer, they wake up and start flying seeking aphid-infested plants. After mating, female ladybirds lay their tiny yellow eggs under the leaves of plants which are infested by aphids. The larvae hatched from the eggs have six legs and proceed to devour aphids.
After they have shed their skin several times, larvae latch onto a plant, produce a cocoon and pupation occurs. The pupa grows into an adult insect.
Ladybirds are considered to be good omens and every country has its own ladybird traditions.
In Greece, people believe that if a ladybird flies away from your hand, it will make your wish come true.
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