Family Coccinellidae - Lady Beetles
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Polyphaga (Water, Rove, Scarab, Long-horned, Leaf and Snout Beetles)
Family Coccinellidae (Lady Beetles)
Other Common Names
Ladybug - Probably the most common name used by the general public (though not technically correct as they aren't bugs)
Ladybird (especially in Canada and the U.K.)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Explanation of Names
A group with many interesting biological, cultural, and linguistic associations:
Scientific name: from New Latin coccinella
, the diminutive of Latin coccinus
, "scarlet." That from Greek kokkinos
(κοκκινος), from kokkos
, "berry." A related Greek term is kermes
, an insect that was used to make a scarlet dye. Compare cochineal
, another red insect, and also the bacterium Coccus
, from the same root (Internet searches), (1)
Common name: "Ladybird" was first used in medieval England, perhaps because these beneficial predators of agricultural pests were believed to be a gift from the Virgin Mary
- the "Lady." Other European names have similar associations, such as the German Marienkafer
, "Marybeetle." This may represent an even older, widespread pre-Christian mythology associated with the beetle (Univ. Florida
, Internet searches).
A well-known use of the common name is the popular nursery rhyme Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home...
482 spp. in 61 genera in our area.(2)
Non-native lady beetles are frequently introduced for biocontrol, so the number of species may continue to rise.(3)
Selected local faunas: ~160 spp. in Canada(4)
, 96 in FL(5)
, 190 in CA(6)
, 71 in NH(7)
, 63 in OK(8)
, 81 in IA(9)
Family Coccinellidae Latreille, 1807
Subfamily STICHOLOTIDINAE Weiss, 1901
Tribe MICROWEISEINI Leng, 1920
Very small (1-1.5mm), brown or black. Strongly convex (dome-shaped), appearing hemispherical to spherical.
Tribe SERANGIINI Pope, 1962
Tribe CEPHALOSCYMNINI Gordon, 1985
Tribe CARINODULINI Gordon, Pakaluk & Slipinski, 1989
Elongated, narrow shape - dissimilar from other lady beetles.
Slipinski & Tomaszewska, 2002
Subfamily SCYMNINAE Mulsant, 1846
Adults: Usually small, oval to oblong, highly convex (dome-shaped). Larvae: usually covered with white wax that may form long "hairy" tufts.
Tribe SCYMNILLINI Casey, 1899
Small, black, sometimes with red spots. Dorsal surface smooth, pubescent (having short, fine hairs), or both.
Tribe STETHORINI Dobzhansky, 1924
Small, dark brown or black, dorsal surface pubescent.
Tribe SCYMNINI Mulsant, 1846
Round, oval, or oblong. Brown or black; may have brown, yellow, or red markings. Dorsal surface and eye pubescent. Larvae covered in waxy white tufts.
Tribe DIOMINI Gordon, 1899
Tribe SELVADIINI Gordon, 1985
Tribe HYPERASPIDINI Mulsant, 1846
Round, oval, or oblong. Blue eyes. Bold markings, often colorful: black or dark brown with contrasting spots, stripes, wavy lines. One species metallic blue.
Genus Blaisdelliana Gordon, 1970
Tribe BRACHIACANTHINI Mulsant, 1850
Oval or oblong. Blue eyes. Dark with yellow to red or white markings (spots, triangles, diamonds); or yellow to red with black markings.
Tribe CRYPTOGNATHINI Mulsant, 1850
, Mulsant, 1850
Subfamily CHILOCORINAE Mulsant, 1846
Round, oval, or shield-shaped. Profile strongly convex, explanate (helmet-like, with a flared "rim"). Often black with red or orange spots; sometimes red or orange with or without spots; two species metallic blue-green. Larvae with long, multi-branched "spines."
Tribe CHILOCORINI Mulsant 1846
Subfamily COCCIDULINAE Mulsant, 1846
All species pubescent; most species round or oval, one elongated. Most species red, brown, or black; one species blue, one species yellow.
Tribe COCCIDULINI Mulsant, 1846
Tribe NOVIINI Mulsant, 1850
Tribe EXOPLECTRINI Crotch, 1874
Tribe AZYINI Mulsant, 1850
Genus Pseudoazya Gordon 1980
Subfamily COCCINELLINAE Latreille, 1807
Tribe COCCINELLINI Latreille, 1807
Many of the most familiar lady beetles. Oval or oblong, sometimes tapering to a point. Usually brightly colored with black markings; or black with colorful markings; a few are gray with black markings. Larvae: Dark, "alligator-like," often with colorful markings.
Tribe HALYZIINI Mulsant, 1846
Small to very small (1-3 mm). Pronotum transparent. White or light brown with brown, black, and sometimes orange spots. Larvae: light gray, may have black and orange markings.
Subfamily EPILACHNINAE Ganglbauer, 1899
Eat plants, unlike most other lady beetles. Round to oval, highly convex, orange or yellow with dark spots. Larvae: yellow with long spines, with reduced legs ("slug-like").
Tribe EPILACHNINI Costa, 1849
Released but not established: Ceratomegilla undecimnotata
, Oenopia conglobata
, Scymnus frontalis
all widespread Palaearctic spp.)(3)
Adults: 1-10 mm; larvae up to twice as long as adults
Red lady beetles with black spots are among the most easily-recognized insects. There are many other colors and patterns, though, which can be hard to identify. The following physical features will identify all lady beetles, no matter what color they are.
Rounded or oval, dorsally convex (dome-shaped), nearly flat on the ventral (bottom)
Pronotum (hard shell in front of wings) often conceals the head from above, and may even look like a head. Photos show the same species with and without head concealed.
Antennae short or very short with 8-11 segments; last 3-6 segments form a weak club. Click the thumbnails for a close look at the details.
Tarsal formula 4-4-4, but appears to be 3-3-3. In other words, each lower leg appears to have three segments.
First abdominal sternite entire, not divided by hind coxae (characteristic of suborder Polyphaga
of the Coleoptera)
[key to genera and selected species in(10)
Larvae are very different-looking, and may not be recognized as lady beetles. They are soft-bodied, flattened and elongated ("alligator-shaped"). Predatory species have fully-developed legs, so they don't look as much like worms as many other beetle larvae. Larvae go through 4 instars
, that is they molt three times before pupating; the instars can be fairly different. Many are gray or black and may have colorful markings (A). Others have waxy white tufts, resembling caterpillars or mealybugs (B). Plant-eating larvae are yellow with long spines (C).
Worldwide, including all of North America.
Anywhere with suitable food. Usually outdoors, but in cold weather large groups may enter houses.
Active adults and larvae are present from spring to fall. Some adults can survive cold winters, but are usually inactive. All life stages present year-round in the south.
Most lady beetles are predatory, eating a wide variety of other insects. Prey includes aphids (A, B), mealybugs, scale insects, fly larvae (C), and small caterpillars. They also eat insect eggs (D) and pupae (E) - even those of other lady beetles (F).
Some lady beetles are plant-eating, however, and can be destructive in gardens (A). Others consume fungus, such as mildew and plant molds (B). Predatory species may supplement their diet with pollen (C).
Coccinellidae larvae go through 4 different instars before pupating and finally becoming adults. Some larvae have tufts of white wax on the surface that make them look like mealybugs.
Their food is usually similar to that of the adults, and in the predatory species they're often important as pest controls.
Before becoming adults, they go through an immobile stage with a shell-like skin. They shed this pupal case to emerge as adults.
see BugGuide Eggs, Larvae, and Pupa
info page for more information including current images of species.
Identification within the family (at least for adults) often depends on patterns in the pronotum (the area in front of the wings/"shell", but behind the head). A view of your ladybird from the front will help with ID.
Some lady beetles, particularly Harmonia axyridis, serve as hosts to parasitic Laboulbeniales fungi, resulting in this appearance (click on thumbs to see comments):
Non-native Coccinellids – Lady Beetles (as of 3/10/2014)
, No common name. From Central America
, Larch Ladybird. From Europe, 1960
, No common name. From Colombia
, Heather Lady Beetle. From Middle East/Europe to control scale insects, repeatedly since 1905
, Red Chilocorus. From SE Asia, 1996, to control greenhouse pests
, No common name. From Korea, 1980s, to control Euonymus Scale
, No common name. From Asia
, No common name. From Israel, 1989
, Seven-spotted Lady Beetle. From Europe, introduced repeatedly
, Variable Lady Beetle. From Australia
, No common name. From Trinidad, 1930s
, Mealybug Destroyer. From Australia, 1891
, Metallic Blue Ladybird Beetle. From the Caribean, recently, repeatedly introduced as pest control
, No common name. From the Caribbean, 2013
, Steelblue Lady Beetle. From Australia, recently
, Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle. From Asia, introduced repeatedly starting in 1916
, No common name. From Asia, recently
, Variegated Lady Beetle. From Europe
, No common name. From India, 2011
, Fourteen-spotted Lady Beetle. From Europe
, No common name. From the Caribbean, 2012
, No common name. From Australia, 1892, to control scale insects
, No common name. From Australia, 1892, to control the black scale Saissetia oleae
, Vedalia Lady Beetle. From Australia, 1888-1889, to control Cottony Cushion Scale
, No common name. From Japan, 1995
, No common name. From the Palaearctic, to control spider mites, 1955
Most other beetles have longer antennae, but some are superficially similar:
(tarsi appear 4-4-4, while in lady beetles appear 3-3-3.
Acorn, J. 2007. Ladybugs of Alberta, Finding the Spots and Connecting the Dots. University of Alberta Press, Edmonton. xxx + 169 pp. (11)
Ellis, D.R., D.R. Prokrym, and R.G. Adams. 1999. Exotic lady beetle survey in northeastern United States: Hippodamia variegata and Propylea quatuordecimpunctata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Entomological News 110: 73–84.
Fauske, G.M., P.P. Tinerella, and D.A. Rider. 2003. A list of the lady beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) of North Dakota with new records from North Dakota and Minnesota. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 76: 38-46.
Gabel, M.L., P.J. Johnson, G.E. Larson, D.J. Ode, H.A. Downing, and G.M. Kostel. 2007. South Dakota’s natural history collections: an endangered teaching and research resource. Proceedings of the South Dakota Academy of Science 86: 71-82.
Gordon, R.D. 1985. The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of America North of Mexico. Journal of the New York Entomological Society. 93(1): 1-912. (12)
Gordon, R.D. and N. Vandenberg. 1991. Field guide to recently introduced species of coccinellidae (Coleoptera) in North America, with a revised key to north American genera of coccinellini. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 93: 845-867. (3)
Harmon, J.P., E.J. Stephens, and J. Losey. 2007. The decline of native coccinellids (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in the United States and Canada. Journal of Insect Conservation 11: 85–94.
Hesler, L.S. 2009. An annotated checklist of the lady beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) of Iowa, U.S.A. Insecta Mundi 0091: 1-10. (9)
Hesler, L.S., and R.W. Kieckhefer. 2008a. Status of exotic and previously common native coccinellids (Coleoptera) in South Dakota landscapes. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 81: 29-49.
Hesler, L.S., and R.W. Kieckhefer. 2008b. An annotated and updated species list of the Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of South Dakota. Coleopterists Bulletin 62: 443-454.
Hesler, L.S., and J.D. Petersen. 2008. Survey for previously common native Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) in the northern Great Plains. The Great Lakes Entomologist 41: 60-72.
Losey, J.E., J.E. Perlman, and E.R. Hoebeke. 2007. Citizen scientist rediscovers rare nine-spotted lady beetle, Coccinella novemnotata, in eastern North America. Journal of Insect Conservation 11: 415-417.
Majka, C.G. & S. Robinson. 2009. Hyperaspis
(Coleoptera: Coccinellidae): two poorly known genera of native lady beetles in the Maritime Provinces. Journal of the Acadian Entomological Society, 5: 3-11. Full PDF
Obrycki, J.J., and T.J. Kring. 1998. Predaceous Coccinellidae in biological control. Annual Review of Entomology 43: 295-321.
Obrycki, J.J., N.C. Elliott, and K.L. Giles. 2000. Coccinellid introductions: potential for and evaluation of nontarget effects. Pp. 127-145. In: P.A. Follett and J.J. Duan (eds.). Nontarget effects of biological control. Kluwer Academic Press, Boston, MA. 316 pp.
Obrycki, J.J., W.C. Bailey, C.R. Stoltenow, B. Puttler, and C.E. Carlson. 1987. Recovery of the seven-spotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), in Iowa and Missouri. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 60: 584-588.
Shaefer, P.W., R.J. Dysart, and H.B. Specht. 1987. North American distribution of Coccinella septempunctata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) and its mass appearance in coastal Delaware. Environmental Entomology 16: 368-373.
Stehr, W.C. 1930. The Coccinellidae (ladybird beetles) of Minnesota. University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, Technical Bulletin 75. 54 pp.
Wheeler, A.G., Jr., and E.R. Hoebeke. 1995. Coccinella novemnotata in northeastern North America: historical occurrence and current status (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 97: 701-716.
Wingo, C.W. 1952. The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of the upper Mississippi Basin. Iowa State Journal of Science 27: 15-53.
Wise, I.L., W.J. Turnock, and R.E. Roughley. 2001. New records of coccinellid species for the Province of Manitoba. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Manitoba 57: 5-10.
Eastern Lady Beetles
- a work-in-progress field guide to lady beetles of eastern North America.
|2.||American Beetles, Volume II: Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea|
Arnett, R.H., Jr., M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley and J. H. Frank. (eds.). 2002. CRC Press LLC, Boca Raton, FL.
|3.||Field guide to recently introduced species of Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) in North America|
Robert Gordon and Natalia Vandenberg. 1991. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington.
|10.||Larval key to Genera and selected Species of North American Cocinellidae (Coleoptera)|
Rees, B. E., Anderson, D. M., Bouk, D., and Gordon, R. D. 1994. Proceedings of The Entomological Society of Washington, vol. 96(3), pp. 387-412.
|11.||Ladybugs of Alberta|
John Acorn. 2007. University of Alberta Press, 169 pages.
|12.||The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of America North of Mexico |
Robert D. Gordon. 1985. Journal of the New York Entomological Society, Vol. 93, No. 1.