Their scientific names (Coleoptera, meaning "sheath-winged", and Coccinellidae, meaning "little red sphere") can be quite a mouthful, but by whatever name you call them, Ladybugs are well-known and well-loved all over the Earth. Nearly 400 species of Ladybug live in North America, and there are nearly 5,000 species worldwide. Also commonly known as the Lady Beetle or Ladybird Beetle, the name of these insects reflects the global admiration of mankind. None are much larger than a pencil-eraser (some are even smaller) and they come in a wide variety of colors, including red, orange, pink, yellow and black. They can have as many as 20 spots.....or no spots at all. They're also one of the few insects who hibernate during the winter months (called "over-wintering"), emerging in the spring to lay their eggs.
In the 1880s, California Citrus Growers were forced to put the Ladybug's legendary appetite to a crucial test: A destructive scale insect (imported from Australia) was killing large groves of lemon and orange trees. The orchard owners released thousands of Australian Ladybugs with the hopes that they would gain the upper hand. Within 2 years (and $1,500 worth of Ladybugs) the scale insect infestation was conquered and the trees began to bear fruit again.
The Ladybugs had singlehandedly saved an entire industry (worth half a billion dollars today). Since then, numerous species of Ladybugs have been "employed" around the world to help control and conquer outbreaks of crop-destroying pests. The Hippodamia Convergens (so-named due to the 2 converging white dashes on the black thorax portion of the beetle's body, just above the wing cases) is undoubtedly the "aphid-eating champ" of all the Ladybug species. For this reason, many orchard owners, plant nurseries, and farmers have used them for pest control since 1910. During certain months of the year, you can even purchase containers of these Ladybugs at your local garden centers (or online) for use in your own backyard. Of course, not all of them will stick close to home, but the ones that do will vigilantly remain on patrol for pests, and they take no prisoners!
Nearly ALL cultures believe that a Ladybug is lucky.
Killing one is said to bring sadness and misfortune.
In France, if a Ladybug landed on you, whatever ailment
you had would fly away with the Ladybug.
If a Ladybug is held in the hand while making a wish,
the direction that it flies away to shows where
your luck will come from.
If the spots on the wings of a Ladybug are more than seven,
it's a sign of coming famine. If less than seven, it means
you will have a good harvest.
In Belgium, people believed that if a Ladybug crawled across
a young girl's hand, she would be married within a year.
People in Switzerland told their young children
that they were brought to them, as babies, by Ladybugs.
(...and we thought Storks did that)!
In some Asian cultures, it is believed that the Ladybug understands
human language, and has been blessed by God, Himself.
In Brussels, the black spots on the back of a Ladybug indicate to the
person holding it how many children he/she will have.
According to a Norse legend, the Ladybug came to earth
riding on a bolt of lightning.
The Victorians in Britain believed that if a Ladybug alighted on your
hand, you would be receiving new gloves.....if it landed on your head,
a new hat would be in your future, and so on.
In the 1800's, some doctors used Ladybugs to treat measles! They
also believed that if you mashed ladybugs and put them
into a cavity, the insects would stop a toothache!
During the Pioneer days, if a family found a Ladybug in their log cabin
during the winter, it was considered a "Good Omen".
In the Spring, if numerous Ladybugs are seen flying around,
British farmers say it forecasts many bountiful crops.
Many Bretons believe that the arrival of Ladybugs will bring fair weather.
Folklore suggests if you catch a Ladybug in your home, count the number
of spots and that's how many dollars you'll soon find.
In Norway, if a man and a woman spot a Ladybug at the same time,
there will be a romance between them.