Ladybugs, sometimes referred to as lady beetles or even ladybirds, are a fairly common type of beetle. They can be found across the United States, in a variety of habitats. While many people may think of ladybugs only as the beetle that’s a bright red with black spots, ladybugs can actually be a variety of colors with a variety of markings. You may be wondering if there’s more than just the black and red variety, how many types, meaning species, of ladybugs are there?
There are approximately 5,000 different species of ladybugs around the world. The scientific name for the ladybug family is Coccinellidae. But ladybugs supposedly got their common name in the Middle Age, after being dedicated to the Virgin Mary—being the “beetle of Our Lady.” The United States is home to both native ladybugs and some that were imported. Keep reading to learn about some of the different species of ladybugs that live in the United States.
The nine-spotted ladybug is a native ladybug that is actually the official insect of New York State. As you may have guessed from the name, the nine-spotted ladybug has nine spots: four on each elytra (the hardened forewing covering the ladybug’s flight wings), and one split down the middle to total nine. While the nine-spotted ladybug used to be prolifically found in the Northeastern United States, its numbers have unfortunately been declining since the late 1980’s.
Unlike the nine-spotted ladybug, the convergent ladybug is commonly found across the United States, and across North America. It can be found from Southern Canada all the way down to South America. The most distinctive trait of the convergent ladybug is the black and white pattern on its pronotum, the section immediately behind the head, with white lines that converge—hence where it got its common name. While many different ladybugs can be helpful for controlling a wide variety of garden pests, the convergent ladybug is the species that is often sold by insectaries for such control.
In addition to the nine-spotted ladybug and the convergent ladybug, some other native types include:
- ● The spotted pink ladybug: A more elongated, oval-shaped and pink-colored ladybug that also feeds on common garden pests
- ● The parenthesis ladybug: Named for the two markings on its back that, with their curved appearance, resemble parenthesis
- ● Two-spotted ladybug: This ladybug is usually a bright red color with two distinct spots on its back. Like the nine-spotted ladybug, it has unfortunately been declining in numbers. This ladybug is also native to Europe, not just the US.
Multicolored Asian Ladybug
Unlike the nine-spotted ladybug, the multicolored Asian ladybug is not native to the United States. As you may have guessed from its name, the multicolored Asian ladybug originated in Asia, specifically in eastern Asia. It is believed to have been brought over to the United States to curb certain harmful insects—ladybugs, like some other common bugs, are considered to be beneficial insects because they prey on certain bugs that damage plants in gardens and farms. Since the first populations were recorded in the 1980s, the multicolored Asian ladybug has spread across many different parts of the United States, from Louisiana to Pennsylvania. You can sometimes tell the multicolored Asian ladybug apart from other species due to its high number of spots, usually around 16. However, the multicolored Asian ladybug can vary quite a bit in spot number and in color, with wings anywhere from a bright red to a mustard color.
Australian ladybird beetle
Another species of ladybug that was brought into the United States is the Australian ladybird beetle, more commonly called the vedalia beetle. Like the multicolored Asian ladybug, it was imported to help manage certain pest insect populations. Specifically, the Australian ladybird beetle was meant to help farmers deal with cottony-cushion scale in citrus orchards. These ladybugs, like other ladybugs, are also helpful in managing aphids as both their larvae and adults will feed on the pesky critters.