Ladybugs are small oval or round beetles whose scientific name is “Coccinellidae” They are known as “ladybirds” in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Malta and in some parts of Canada and the United States. “Ladybirds” are known as “ladybugs” elsewherre throughout North America. Scientists increasingly prefer the names “ladybird beetles” or “lady beetles,” because these insects are not true bugs. Lesser-used names for these insects include “ladyclock,” “lady cow” and “lady fly.”
Ladybugs have divided hard shells (elytra) on their backs that cover and protect their wings and also protect the beetles from its predators. The elytra is also the part of the beetle that shows the ladybug’s colors and patterns that warn predators off. Ladybugs can secrete a fluid from the joints in their legs which gives them a foul taste to their enemies. Their distinctive coloring is a reminder to any animals that have dined on these creatures before that it was not an enjoyable experience. A threatened ladybug may “play dead” and secrete the unappetizing substance to protect itself. The right half of the elytra is exactly the same as the left, and each side has markings that are a mirrror image of the other side. Ladybugs appear almost clumsy when they fly. That apparent clumsiness might be because their wings are cramped underneath their elytra all of the time that they are not flying. Everytime the ladybug begins to take flight it must first carefully unfold its wings from under its lifted elytra where they have been stored.