About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why are the red and black beetles called ladybugs?

The warm window at the Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing store woke up a ladybug. Known to winter in small cracks around windows, these beneficial beetles are waking up all over and may need a little help finding an exit. (Why can they always find a way in but not out!)

Over 300 types of ladybugs live in North America. The reason that entomologists think that ladybugs have such brilliant red coloring and black spots is to warn their predators that they taste really bad and that they are a little bit poisonous, too. 

They were named in Europe, during the Middle Ages by Catholic farmers that prayed to the Virgin Mary for help with the insects that were destroying their crops. The red and black beetles appeared soon after to eat the plant-destroying pests and save the crops. The farmers began calling the beetles "The Beetles of Our Lady", which became lady beetles, lady birds, and ladybugs. The red wings represented the Virgin's cloak and the black spots represented her joys and sorrows. There was no differentiation between males and females.


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