Wild Profile: Meet the ladybug

By Yellowj/Shutterstock

Can you tell a ladybug’s age by the number of spots on its body? Sorry, that’s a myth. Most of these bugs only live for two or three years, max, and the number of black spots that they wear varies by species. Canada has more than 450 native ladybug varieties, plus a few invasive ones, including the multi-coloured Asian lady beetle.

No matter the species or spots, all ladybugs have the same wing design, and it allows them to quickly transform from a walking insect into a flying insect. The secret? They have a set of transparent wings—four times the size of their bodies—folded, origami-like, under another set of hard, protective wings. To fly, a ladybug flips its spotted wings forward, and unfurls its long, functional wings. Alakazam! In flight, ladybugs flap these wings 85 times per second, but they don’t actually travel very fast—on average, only about 24 km/h.

They might be slow movers, but ladybugs are still terrifying—at least to aphids, their prey of choice. One ladybug can devour as many as 500 aphids in a day, tearing them apart with sharp mandibles.

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