Regardless of sex, male and female ladybugs are collectively referred to as just that — ladybugs. The name "ladybug" is an Americanized version of the European name for the same sort of beetle: "ladybird." They live in forests, gardens and weed patches.
Ladybugs are tiny insects that have spotted, oval-shaped dome bodies. They have antennae and short legs, and most ladybugs are red or orange.
There are nearly 5,000 species of ladybugs worldwide. Most species consume plant-eating insects, which helps farmers protect their crops. An adult ladybug can eat up to 75 aphids a day.
If ladybugs are threatened, they can release a chemical that makes them taste horrible to predators. The predators associate the color combinations with the chemicals and learn to avoid ladybugs.
The average life span of a ladybug in the wild is 2 to 3 years.
The term ladybird has been used in Europe for centuries, although the scientific name for the ladybug is Coccinella septempunctata. It is said to have been named for the Virgin Mary, whom some call "Our Lady." The ladybug is at the heart of the children's nursery rhyme, "Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home."
Because ladybugs can eat up to 5,000 aphids in their lifetimes, they are often raised commercially and sold to farmers and gardeners.