Ladybugs are small beetles that grow to approximately 0.4 inches long and live from two to three years. These bugs are omnivores, making them a good choice for gardeners and farmers, since they eat insects that otherwise damage the plants. Sometimes, ladybugs also resort to cannibalism.
The bright colors of ladybugs are a defense mechanism that warns predators away by advertising their toxicity. Their colorful dome protects and hides their bodies and wings, and their leg joints secrete an unappetizing fluid that adds further protection from predators. Ladybugs have also been known to play dead when threatened.
Ladybugs lay their eggs by the hundreds in the nests of insect pests, which then provide the babies' first meal after hatching. The egg stage lasts around a week, and they are fully mature three to seven weeks after hatching. As adults, this species goes into hibernation when the weather cools. Large groups gather in safe places to sleep through the cold winter months and short days.
There are over 5,000 species of ladybugs worldwide, and they are common in all but the coldest Arctic and Antarctic zones. North America is home to roughly 400 different variations, including the Convergent Lady Beetle, two-spotted Lady Beetle and Pine Lady Beetle.