What is a ladybird?

Ladybirds are beetles (Order: Coleoptera) and so possess two characteristics that distinguish them from insects of other orders:

  1. hard forewings (elytra) that cover the abdomen and meet centrally without overlapping;
  2. biting mouthparts.

The ladybird family within the beetle group is called the Coccinellidae. Coccinellids can be recognised by a number of anatomical features:

  • Small to medium sized beetles (1-10 mm long)
  • Usually round or oval
  • Elytra are often brightly coloured and patterned
  • Short, clubbed antennae
  • Pronotum (structure between the head and the elytra) is broader than long; extends forward at the margins and is often patterned
  • Short legs that are retractable under the body
  • Feet (tarsi) that have four segments but the third is so small that only three are easily visible