Did you know that there are around 6,000 different types of ladybugs worldwide? How incredible! Actually, a lady bug isn't considered to be a 'bug' at all, but rather a beetle. A bug has mouth parts that allow it to suck. A beetle has a set of wings towards the front of its body that are hardened wing cases called elytra. (If you'd like to go down the rabbit hole of the difference, check out these fun two links: Hemiptera and A Bug is Not a Beetle. )
As part of the beetle family ladybugs are sometimes referred to as lady beetles. In the U.K., ladybugs are often called ladybirds because they are beetles that have wings and can fly.
Millie's friend, Lois is a 9 spotted ladybug, called Coccinella novemnotata. Did you know that the 9 spotted lady bug was native to North America? The 9 spotted ladybug has been the state bug of New York since 1989.
Unfortunately, the 9 spotted lady bug has become increasingly rare and its populations have declined, especially since the Asian ladybug has become so widespread in the USA. The Asian ladybug is not quite as friendly as our own native ladybug. Here are some quick facts about their differences:
Ladybugs are quite a special breed of beetle and have been a great help to farmers who have had infestations of aphids. If you have aphids in your garden, check out this helpful website for how to get rid of them naturally.
9 spotted ladybugs are wonderful aphid eaters. And Aphids are actually Lois's favorite thing to eat! I don't know whether or not I should say 'YUCK!' or 'Thank you!' The idea of eating an aphid is pretty gross, but if it wasn't for these little ladybugs eating the aphids, a lot of our vegetables would be destroyed. Aphids also carry plant viruses, so it is actually good for us to have ladybugs around to take care of these pesky little critters.