Ladybugs' bright red color exists to frighten predators away from eating them. Despite their name, ladybugs are actually beetles and are not members of the true bug family, which includes ladybugs' favorite food, aphids. In its lifetime, a ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids, plant lice or whiteflies.
A popular myth about ladybugs states that determining the age of the beetle is possible by counting the spots on its protective wing coverings. In reality, the number and pattern of spots on any particular species of ladybug is strictly a result of its genetics, not its age.
Ladybugs' large appetite for aphids makes these beetles popular with farmers, as they are an effective and environmentally friendly form of pest control. While most ladybugs prey on aphids and other small insects, there are a few species that are themselves agricultural pests, including the squash and bean beetles.
A female ladybug can lay over 100 eggs in a single clutch. Ladybugs lay their fertilized eggs among the same aphids they eat. When the eggs hatch, the newborn ladybug larvae immediately begin devouring the aphids around them. Ladybug larvae look nothing like their adult counterparts and are more similar in appearance to predatory beetle grubs, being dark and covered in spines.