Everyone knows the seven-spot ladybird. Because of its function as lucky charm, its funny hemispherical form and its sweet points on the wings it is very popular. On its typical, eye-catching red wings, this ladybird has got 7 spots, that obviously gave it its name. The myth that the number of spots on the wings indicates the age of the animal however is nothing more than a fairy tale. This number only shows that there are some different species in the family of the ladybirds (Coccinellidae), that do not necessarily have red wings, but they can also be black or yellow. The body, the head, the pronotum (plate on the neck) and the legs are black, whereas on the head and the pronotum 2 small white dots can be seen. The ladybird gets 6 to 8 mm big and can be observed nearly everywhere in the northern hemisphere. In addition, it lives in most biotopes, like forests, meadows, willows or gardens.
Did you know?
During the year, the seven-spot ladybird changes its habitat, depending on the food supply. In spring, it is mostly found on trees and shrubs; in summer it prefers the herb layer because it can find its favourite food, aphids, and deposit its eggs there.
After the copulation in spring, the female lays the eggs in small groups on plants where it can find plant lice. The grubs eclose after 10 days and, during their development (about 2 weeks), eat aphids and even, in a cannibalistic way, the other eggs. They pupate and reappear again after 10 days as adult ladybirds. In autumn, the ladybirds hide in moss, dry leaves or grass to pass the winter.
Because they prefer aphids, that are already eaten during the larval stage, the ladybirds are quite useful in agriculture. One grub can eat up to 30 aphids per day, the adult animal even up to 90 per day. This results in 5000 aphids eaten in a lifetime by one single ladybird.
The Latin name „Coccinella“ means scarlet and the addition „septempunctata“ describes the 7 spots on the wings.