Types of Ladybugs: Classification, Species and Asian Lady Beetle Vs. Ladybug (Including Pictures)

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Types of Ladybugs (Including Asian Lady Beetle Vs. Ladybug)
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Ladybugs are a type of beetle that usually have a red, oval-shaped body with black spots. The proper classification for ladybugs (also called ladybirds) should be lady beetles as they belong to a family of small beetles called Coccinellidae. Although the most common color of ladybug species is red, some types of ladybugs have yellow, orange, grey, or even pink body.

Ladybugs also have flecks on the upper parts of their wings that come in colors such as pink, red, black, yellow or white. Ladybugs can have as many as 13 specs on the upper part of their wings.

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Ladybugs that are native to Europe and North America don’t bite. However, the Asian lady beetle is now becoming a pest in many countries. These beetles look similar to native ladybugs but they bite and can cause allergic skin reactions. Ladybugs are not poisonous to humans, but they can have toxic effects on some smaller animals such as lizards and even birds.

In this article, you will learn about the various types of ladybugs. You will also learn how to tell apart good ladybugs from the bad Asian lady beetle.

Ladybug  101: Ladybug Classification, Species, Types

ladybug

Ladybug (also called ladybird or lady beetle)

  • Kingdom: Animalia (All animals)
  • Phylum: Arthropoda (Invertebrates)
  • Class: Insecta (Insects)
  • Order: Coleoptera (Beetles)
  • Super Family: Cucujoidea (Super Family of Beetles)
  • Family: Coccinellidae (Lady Beetles)

There are over 6,000 species of ladybugs, each with their own unique characteristic. There are about 150 species of ladybugs in the United States. So, just as there are many types of birds, so there are many different types of ladybugs. (1)

Ladybugs should actually be called lady beetles because they belong to a group of insects form the order Coleopteranot. Members of the Coleopteran’s are beetles, hence a ladybug is actually a type of beetle.

The order is not the only part of ladybug classification as they are further classified by their family. Coccinellidae (the scientific name for the family of ladybugs) belongs to the super-family of beetles called Cucujoidea. This family includes insects such as fungus beetles, bark beetles, fruit worm beetles as well as lady beetles.

When looking at ladybugs (or lady beetles), you also need to consider classifications such as the kingdom, the phylum and the class. Ladybugs belong to the Animalia kingdom (all animals). They are a part of the Phylum Arthropoda (invertebrates). Their Class is Insecta (insects) and as mentioned previously, they belong to the order of Coleoptera (beetles), and their family is that of the Coccinellidae (lady beetles).

The lower classification of ladaybirds depends on their size, color, number of spots, and habitat. For example, Coccinella septempunctata is a red-colored variety of lady beetle with 7 spots and is the most common one in Europe. Hippodamia convergens is a type of lady beetle that belongs to the Coccinellidae family and is the most common ladybug species in North America.

The life-cycle of ladybug insects starts as larvae that hatch from eggs. These larvae (which some say look like tiny alligators) gorge on aphids which is one of the reasons they are so useful in pest control. Then, the larvae form into a pupa which is usually yellow in color with black markings. After a few days, an adult ladybug beetle emerges and starts feeding on small insects.

Species of ladybugs range from just over 1 mm in length to over 10 mm. Most ladybugs are flying beetles, and this is probably why in many English-speaking countries they are called ladybirds. The most common types of ladybugs have red body, but other species have colors such as black, blue, orange, yellow, and pink.

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Most ladybird species are classified as beneficial insects. According to some estimates, about 90% of the many thousands of ladybug species are predators. (2) They help to keep down populations of aphids that can destroy crops such as potatoes, grain, and legumes. In fact, organic gardeners buy live ladybugs to use as a natural way to control pests.

The usefulness of ladybirds is due to the fact that they gorge on almost anything. So, what do ladybugs eat apart from aphids? Researchers have found that different types of ladybugs eat different things. Here are a few examples:

  • Ladybugs that belong to the lower classification of Coccinellinae called ‘Halyziini’ feed on fungal growths on plants.
  • The tiny Stethorus utilis species of lady beetle eats mites and other small bugs.
  • Most types of ladybugs love to eat mealybugs, scale insects, and, of course, aphids.
  • Depending on their food source, ladybugs may also drink water, honeydew, or feed on the nectar from flowers.

Although the majority of ladybug species are beneficial insects and cause no harm, there are some destructive types. One of these is the Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) that feeds on bean plants. Another type of pest is the Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) which is in the ladybug classification of Coccinellidae.

Bugs that Look Like Lady Bugs

There are actually very few bugs or beetles that look like lady bugs which aren’t classified as ladybugs (Coccinellidae). So, why do many people think that there are bugs similar to ladybugs? This could be due to the fact that people don’t realize that there are thousands of beetle species.

Not all ladybugs are red with black dots. Some types of lady beetles are black with red spots, others are white with tiny black markings, whereas others have striped bodies.

However, there are a few fake ladybugs which can easily be mistaken for true ladybugs. These types of beetle include the Clerid beetle, Scarlet lily beetle, and Colorado potato beetle.

fake ladybugs

These bugs look like ladybugs but are actually fake ladybugs. From left to right: the Clerid beetle, Scarlet lily beetle, and Colorado potato beetle

One type of bug that looks like a ladybug and is actually from the same Coccinellidae family, is the Asian lady beetle. Even though the Asian lady beetle is similar to native ladybugs, they act completely different. This is why many people consider them to be an invasive pest.

To know how to identify the difference between these ladybug impostors, it’s important to know more about them.

Asian Lady Beetle (Japanese Ladybug)

asian ladybug

Asian lady beetle (Japanese ladybug)

The Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) is in the Coccinellidae family and the Coleoptera order. Other names for this invasive pest include the Japanese ladybug, Halloween ladybeetle, harlequin, or multicolored Asian beetle.

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The multicolored Asian beetle was imported into the US and other countries to control the number of crop-destroying pests. However, the Asian beetle itself has become a nuisance for many people. In late fall and early winter, Asian ladybugs start flying to warmer climates. Large numbers can swarm and invade homes. The biting ladybugs can also cause an irritating bite on exposed skin. Unlike native ladybugs, their Asian cousins leave an odorous slimy fluid when squashed. (3)

Scientists have identified that species of Asian lady beetles come in many colors. These winged insects are between 5 and 8 mm in length with oval body. Many Asian lady beetles have red body with black spotted marking. They can also be orange color or cream color and may or may not have markings. (4)

Being classified as a true member of the lady beetle family (Coccinellidae), Asian beetles have a similar life-cycle. After the eggs hatch, larvae feed on soft plant food. They then molt their skin 4 times before becoming a pupa. After that, they emerge from this pupa state as adult Asian lady beetles.

The best way to prevent swarming Asian ladybugs invading your home is to caulk crevices around windows, doors, and pipes. This is essential in preventing further infestations as the “bugs” have been known to return year after year to the same place.

The Asian Lady Beetle is a Ladybug Imposter that Bites

If you have been bitten by a ladybug, chances are that this was an Asian lady beetle and not the Convergent ladybug or the 7-spot ladybird.

What does an Asian lady beetle bite feel like? Fortunately, these flying ladybugs don’t have a nasty bite. Scientists say that the bite feels like a pinprick and only rarely has complications. (5)

Unlike harmless native ladybugs, the Asian type of ladybug can leave behind stinky yellow secretion. For some people, this can cause allergic skin reactions or asthma.

Ladybug vs. Asian Beetle (Asian Lady Beetle)

Types of ladybug: ladybug vs asian beetle

Ladybug vs Asian beetle (bad ladybug)

Telling the difference between native ladybugs and biting Asian lady beetles can be challenging. Both look similar and are of similar size. However, there are some tell-tale signs that allow you to tell them apart such as the markings on their head and the bite.

One of the main differences between ladybug and Asian beetle is the bite. Ladybugs native to North America and Europe are not biting beetles. As already mentioned, Asian ladybugs can pinch the skin.

The other the difference between ladybug and Asian lady beetle is the swarming nature of Asian beetles. If you see a lonely ladybird, then it is probably a native ladybug species. Unlike native ladybugs, Asian beetles swarm in large numbers and quickly cover windows. This is because, in the fall, swarming beetles look for warm surfaces.

One other difference between ladybugs and Asian ones is the markings on their head. From above, Asian lady beetles have a white “M” shaped spot where their head meets the body on their pronotum. This is the part of their body between their head and body, and is usually black.

Before you try to get rid of an Asian beetle, be aware of their “reflex bleeding.” When the red flying pests feel threatened, they excrete a staining acrid yellow substance. Harmless ladybugs don’t do this.

Due to their more aggressive nature, the Asian ladybugs can harm dogs. One report mentions Asian beetles that got embedded in the mucosa of the dog’s mouth (the soft tissue that lines the mouth). The beetles secreted a toxic chemical substance that caused burning to the dog’s mouth. (5)

It is said that once the beetle is stuck into the dog’s mucosa, it is hard for the dog to get rid of it, and usually manual removal is required. Some vets have reported a few cases where dogs ingested Asian beetles and developed stomach upset such as vomiting and diarrhea.

How to Get Rid of Asian Lady Beetles

If you have identified Asian lady beetles in your home, the best way to eradicate them is with a vacuum cleaner. This prevents crushing them and risk staining fabrics or having to deal with the disgusting odor they leave behind.

Once you get rid of them, you need to seal up any cracks or crevices where they could enter your home. Asian ladybugs leave behind pheromones that will continue to attract these flying pests to your home year after year.

Let’s look at many other different types of ladybugs from around the world.

Types of Ladybugs

The majority of ladybug species are harmless and are good for your garden. Also, you don’t have to worry if you see a native species of ladybird (ladybug) in your home. They don’t bite and they don’t carry disease.

Let’s look briefly at some of the varieties of ladybirds native to North America, Europe, and other countries.

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Convergent ladybug

Hippodamia convergens

The Convergent ladybug is the most common type of ladybug in North America

The Convergent ladybug or lady beetle (Hippodamia convergens) is the most common native species found in North America. This has a dark orange oval body with 12 black spots of varying sizes on its dome-shaped back. This ladybug species measures between 4 and 7 mm.

This native ladybird species is popular to help control aphid populations, which is their main food source, as well as whiteflies and other insects.

California lady beetle

Coccinella californica

The California lady beetle doesn’t have black marking on the back

The California ladybug (Coccinella californica) is a type of lady beetle that has a red domed back without any black spots. The identifying feature of this ladybird species is the black line running down the middle of its back. Its head is mostly black and may have a white spot on either side.

This native Californian lady beetle measures around 5 mm.

C-7 (Seven-spotted ladybug)

Coccinella septempunctata

The seven-spotted ladybird is common in Europe

One of the most common native ladybirds you will find in Europe is the seven-spotted ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata). This is sometimes called C-7 for short.

Despite being common in Europe, the C-7 has been successfully introduced into states in the US. This type of ladybird has 7 spots on its back. There are 6 of similar size on either side of its wing covers and a larger black spot on the middle just behind the pronotum. It has a black head similar to the California ladybug.

This species of ladybird is one of the larger varieties with adult ones measuring up to 10 mm long.

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22-Spot ladybug

Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata

The 22-spot ladybug is a type of ladybug that prefers to eat mildew grown on shrubs

The 22-spot ladybug (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata) is a striking type of ladybird due to its bright yellow color. As its name suggests, there are 22 spots on this small species of lady beetle and it also has 5 spots on its pronotum. This is one of the smaller types of beetle in the Coccinellidae family measuring only 5 mm.

Unlike other aphid-consuming ladybugs, this species prefers to eat mildew that grows on shrubs.

Cardinal ladybird (vedalia ladybug)

Rodolia cardinalis

Cardinal ladybird is a small type of ladybug

You may mistake the Cardinal ladybug (Rodolia cardinalis) for a regular beetle due to its black body. There are distinct red markings on its back which means it doesn’t resemble a typical ladybug. This is also a small type of ladybug because adults only grow to between 2 to 4 mm in length.

Native to Australia, this ladybug feeds on aphids, small mites, and scale insects. It has been used successfully in Australia and California to control mite infestations in orchards.

Pink spotted lady beetle

Coleomegilla maculata

The pink spotted lady beetle helps control the Colorado potato beetle

The pink spotted lady beetle (Coleomegilla maculata) is also called the twelve-spotted lady beetle. Unlike other ladybugs, this species has a somewhat oblong body rather than an oval one. There are 6 black markings on each pink-colored wing cover.

This species of ladybird thrives along coastal regions and helps control infestations of Colorado potato beetles.

Hadda beetle (28-spotted potato ladybug)

Henosepilachna vigintioctopunctata

Hadda beetle is a type of yellow orange ladybug

The common name for the Henosepilachna vigintioctopunctata species has ‘potato’ in it because this ladybug feeds on and damages potato crops. The yellow-orange colored beetle has 14 black markings on each wing cover. The oval body is larger at the head end.

This yellow species of ladybug originates in India and is prevalent in some countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Two-spotted ladybug

Adalia bipunctata

Two-spotted ladybug is a popular variety in Europe and North America

This red species of lady beetle, the two-spotted ladybug (Adalia bipunctata) is called so due to the two spots on its back. One of the striking features of this type of lady beetle is the 2 large white spots on the pronotum. This makes the beetle look like it has 2 large eyes.

Some species of Adalia bipunctata are known to have more than just two spots. This type of lady beetle is popular in Europe and North America to help control crop pests.

Twenty-spotted ladybug

Psyllobora vigintimaculata

Twenty-spotted ladybug is a type of small ladybug with cream colored body

The twenty-spotted ladybug (Psyllobora vigintimaculata) is an unusual-looking beetle due to its cream-colored back and brown markings. Because of its small size of only 2 or 3 mm, it may be very difficult to spot this ladybug.

Orange-spotted ladybug

Brachiacantha ursina

Orange-spotted ladybug is an unusual type of ladybug with black body

Another unusual type of ladybug is the orange-spotted lady beetle (Brachiacantha ursina). This is also called the ursine spurleg lady beetle. This shiny black beetle has a pronounced dome-shaped back and an oval body. Each wing cover has a number of bright orange or yellow markings.

Measuring only 3 – 4 mm in size, this black ladybug species may also be hard to find.

Three-banded ladybug

Coccinella trifasciata

The three-banded lady beetle variety

Another member of the Coccinella family is the appropriately named three-banded lady beetle (Coccinella trifasciata). Three black bands wrap around the orange body of this native North American lady beetle. Some say that this beetle looks like a tiger. Being only 4 mm in length, this is another type of small ladybug.

Eye-spotted ladybug

Anatis mali

The eye-spotted ladybug

When you see the eye-spotted ladybug (Anatis mali), it’s not difficult to see how it got its name. Each wing cover has a number of markings that look like tiny eyes. The distinct markings give the large ladybug a unique look. Compared to other ladybugs, this species is of similar size to the 7-spotted ladybird of Northern Europe, 7 – 10 mm.

Fifteen-spotted lady beetle

Anatis labiculata

The fifteen-spotted lady beetle has types with white or dark purple body

The fifteen-spotted ladybug (Anatis labiculata) is a very unusual white species of ladybeetle with black markings. Its body has a round, oval shape with markings on either side of its wing covers. This ladybird species measures between 7 and 9 mm. One type of the 15-spotted ladybug species also has a deep purple body.

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