During flight, the shell of the ladybug raises to reveal light and gossamer wings, which are approximately four times bigger than the beetle's body. When the beetle is not flying, the shell closes to protect the wings. Red in color and sporting black spots, the shell of the ladybug is what makes it instantly recognizable.
Called the elytra, the shell of the ladybug is quite tough, which lends the beetle extra protection from predators. Pawnation explains that the elytra are connected by hinges to the pronotum, which lies directly behind the beetle's head. When the ladybug takes flight, the hinges move to raise the elytra, allowing the see-through wings to dramatically unfold. When the ladybug lands, the flight wings fold perfectly back into place, and the shell closes once more.
The ladybug is a very adept flier. During flight, the wings flap at a rate of up to 85 times per second, which allows the beetle to fly and make maneuvers very quickly and accurately.
Easily identified by their spots, there are more than 500 different species of ladybugs in North America alone. The bright red color of the beetle also serves as a warning to predators, as does the beetle's bitter taste.