UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County

Luck Be a Lady

Photographers never tire of capturing images of ladybugs, aka lady beetles.

First of all, they're beneficial insects. You know when you photograph them that they're about to scoot, crawl or fly off to grab a tasty lunch--an all-you-can-eat aphid buffet.

Second, they're colorful. They brighten a garden, standing out like red Corvettes on a freeway. 

Third, they're among the most recognizable of insects. Halloween costume companies relish in creating polka-dotted attire for the 5-and-under set. Nobody will ask "What are you supposed to be?" 

Fourth, they're quite common. California alone has some 125 species of Coccinellids.
Worldwide, there are some 5000 described species.

Not too many people know, however, that many species in the family Coccinellidae secrete a nasty fluid. As UC Berkeley retired entomologist Jerry Powell writes in his book, California Insects, "...when disturbed, many species secrete a bitter, amber-colored fluid that is believed to have poisonous effects on vertebrates..."

Indeed, their red and black coloring warns "Leave me alone!"

Ladybug, aka lady beetle, searching for aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybug, aka lady beetle, searching for aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Ladybug, aka lady beetle, searching for aphids. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The ladybug's coloring warns
The ladybug's coloring warns "Leave me alone!" (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The ladybug's coloring warns "Leave me alone!" (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A ladybug on the prowl. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A ladybug on the prowl. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A ladybug on the prowl. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 at 9:15 PM
Tags: Coccinellids (2), Jerry Powell (6), lady beetles (20), ladybugs (27)

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