[X] CLOSE

Ask the Entomologist: Why Do Ladybugs Have Spots?

Home / Beetles / Ask the Entomologist: Why Do Ladybugs Have Spots?

Kevin Hathorne, technical director and board certified entomologist for Terminix Service, Inc., the ninth largest pest control company in the U.S., answers the questions that bug us all the most.

 

Q:  Why do ladybugs have spots? Was there a point in time where they didn’t have spots?michel-bosma

 

A:  Thanks for your question!  Actually, not all ladybugs (technically they are lady beetles) have spots, and the number of spots can vary.  One particular species has 24 spots!  So, the number of spots depends on which species it is.  There are about 5,000 species of lady beetles in the world, and 150 species are found in the U.S.  The reason why they have spots, however, is because they are actually a warning to predators.  In the insect world, having bright contrasting colors, like red and black or orange and black, usually means that you might taste bad to predators.  This is called aposematic coloration.  For lady beetles, the brighter the colors the more toxic they are.  When they are young, they produce toxins from their food.  If they eat well, they can produce more toxins.  This is why some lady beetles have brighter colors than others.

 

Have a question that keeps bugging you? Submit your question here for a chance to be answered in a future “Ask the Entomologist” feature.