This Is Why Ladybugs Have Spots

This Is Why Ladybugs Have Spots

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Ladybugs are probably the most treasured of all beetles. In fact, many people would consider these peculiar looking beetles to be their favorite type of insect. Even as children we were not afraid of having ladybugs crawl on our arms while playing around outside. There is just something about ladybugs that is disarming. Who knows why so many people are scared of insects, but not ladybugs? Perhaps the lack of fear surrounding ladybugs has something to do with their colors, and the black polka-dotted design clearly located on their shells. This polka-dotted design may be charming to look at, but is there any practical reason as to why their shells are covered in this design? As some of you may have guessed, the design on a ladybug’s back serves to deter predators from attacking.

The particular color combination is the most important aspect of a ladybug’s shell design. These colors are obviously black and red or orange. Some animals have bodies that are covered in bright and dark colors. The purpose of this particular color combination, which is known as aposematic coloring, is to keep predators away. Many animals benefit from possessing this design; the monarch butterfly is another insect example.

This design can also be an indication to other predators that the particular animal possessing the color scheme could taste bad to other animals. For example, ladybugs produce toxins that make them taste bad to predators, and their color scheme indicates this to predators. Research has shown that ladybugs showing brighter than normal red or orange colors are also more poisonous. When a ladybug is threatened, it will release small droplets of hemolymph from its leg joints, which produces an odor that is quite foul to predators. Also, ladybugs that enjoyed a better than average diet during development will develop brighter colored shells as adults. This could be the laziest method of self-defense in the animal kingdom.

Which other insects, besides monarch butterflies and ladybugs, sport bright and dark colors?


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