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Ladybugs (also called lady birds or lady beetles) are small, oval-shaped winged insects. These shiny insects are usually red with black spots or black with red spots on the wing covers. The number of spots identifies the type of ladybug. Most ladybugs are less than 1/4 inch (4-8 mm) long. As ladybugs age, the spots fade.

There are about 5,000 different species of ladybugs throughout the world. A common species is the two-spotted ladybug (pictured above); it is orange-red with two black spots.

The ladybug, like all beetles, undergoes a complete metamorphosis during its life. The life stages of the ladybug are: egg --> larva --> pupa --> adult.

These tiny predators (Family Coccinellidae) are helpful in gardens because they eat many garden pests (including mealy bugs and aphids). Birds are the major predator of the ladybug.

When not flying, the wings are covered by a pair of modified wings (called elytra). When flying, the elytra open up. Like all insects, ladybugs have: 6 jointed legs (black), two antennae (black), and an exoskeleton made of chitin (a material similar to our hair and fingernails). Their three-part body consists of a head (with the mouthparts, eyes, and antennae), thorax (where the legs and wings attach), and the abdomen (containing the reproductive and most of the digestive organs).

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