Over the weekend, I was in my garden and saw one of nature’s own pest controllers. It was my first ladybug of the season and I was really lucky, as it was a native species, called a ‘convergent’ ladybug. The tiny, beautiful insect was an orangey-red half-sphere with 13 bold black spots and had its trademark stubby legs and roving antennae.
Worldwide, there are about 5,000 similar species of ladybug, although the word “bug” is a misnomer. Technically, ‘bugs’ are insects with sucking mouth parts and a simple development process. Ladybugs as we know them are, in fact, beetles – with chewing mouth parts and a full metamorphosis. Similar to butterflies, lady beetles go through the stages of larva, pupa and adult – which is why entomologists prefer the common name ‘lady beetle’ to ‘ladybug.’