Have you ever wondered why ladybugs are called ladybugs? Maybe you’ve been struck with the odd thought, “are they all ladies?” It’s very likely that if you are one of the millions who find these beauties fascinating, then you’ve had questions such as these. That’s normal, but perhaps there’s even more unknown facts about the lovely ladybug that hadn’t even crossed your mind yet.
One thing I never really thought of before, was what they look like when they’re babies. They start out as eggs that were layed by their mothers in the perfect spot for eating aphids. Then they hatch into larvae. You may have seen a ladybug larvae before, only maybe you thought it was a completely different bug. They’re black and yellow, with crinkly bodies similar to that of a caterpillar. Their six legs are only towards the front part of the spiky looking body, leaving the back end unsupported. Then they go through the pupa stage before emerging as ladybugs! The whole process is very similar to what a caterpillar goes through as it turns into a butterfly. So in essence, no one has ever seen a little tiny, baby-looking ladybug. If you think you have, then it’s likely what you were looking at was a smaller species of ladybug. Or possibly a male; yes, there are males.
Being called ladybugs has got to make the males feel a little under-appreciated. They are not asexual, however; so they need the opposite sex to procreate. It’s actually a little surprising how many videos there are of ladybugs mating. The males tend to be smaller in size, but the differences can sometimes take an expert (or maybe a magnifying glass) to tell the difference.
So why are they called ladybugs, then, if they consist of both males and females? The story originated in Europe and stretches way back to the middle Ages. The farmers in that time we’re having trouble with tiny insects infesting their crops. It’s said that they prayed to the Virgin Mary to save their crops from destruction. That’s when the ladybugs showed up and started eating these small aphids. The people dubbed them “The beetles of our lady.” Over time this was shortened to the ladybeetle. In some places this name remains; in others, the name was changed again to “ladybug.”
These friendly little bugs are an enjoyment for people of all ages. From the babies who giggle as the small bugs tickle their arms with tiny feet as they crawl, to the elderly sitting outside enjoying nature while a ladybug flies up and lands on the rim of their glass of iced tea, procuring a smile before resuming flight. Now you can rest easier having learned something new about these beautiful, red and black bugs.