Coccinellidae (ladybirds, ladybugs, lady-beetles; class Insecta, order Coleoptera)
Family of rounded, convex, usually shiny beetles, coloured red, black, or yellow, with a pattern of spots or lines. The head is largely covered by the pronotum
. The antennae are short, and clubbed. Larvae are very active, with well-developed legs, and often grey with a pattern of spots. Some are covered with spines, or a white, waxy coat. If provoked, adults and larvae exhibit reflex bleeding, producing a sticky orange fluid from ‘knees’ or spines: presumably this has a deterrent effect. Economically they are very important, and are used in biological control
. The majority feed on aphids and plant pests, some are fungus feeders, and others (e.g. Epilachna varivestis
, the Mexican bean beetle
) are phytophagous and attack crop plants. There are 5000 species.