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Why Do Ladybugs Have Spots?

why do ladybugs have spots

Ladybugs are known for their bright colours and distinctive black spots. But have you ever wondered why ladybugs have spots? Is it just for show, or do those spots serve a purpose? In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of ladybugs and uncover the mystery behind their spots.

Why Do Ladybugs Have Spots?


The spots on ladybugs serve as a defence mechanism to deter predators. The bright colours and spots warn predators that ladybugs are unpalatable and may even be toxic.

Ladybugs produce alkaloids, toxic chemicals that make them unpalatable to hungry predators like spiders, ants, or birds. When threatened, ladybugs can exude tiny droplets of hemolymph from their leg joints, an unusual response known as “reflex bleeding.” This bleeding is yellow and smells unpleasant, which further deters predators.

Not all ladybugs have spots. Some species have stripes, and others have no markings at all. The spots and colours of ladybugs have evolved over time and are passed on genetically through the species. Ladybugs with bright colours and spots may have a better chance of survival because predators more easily recognise them as unpalatable.

How Many Spots Does a Ladybug Have?

24 spot ladybug
AfroBrazilian, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ladybugs can have anywhere from zero to 24 spots. Some species have no spots at all, while others have spots in different colours, such as white, orange, or yellow. The most common number of spots is two or seven, but there are also species with 12 or 16 spots.

Why Do Some Ladybugs Have No Spots?

spotless ladybug
Sam Kieschnick, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ladybugs with no spots can either result from leucism or a different ladybug species. The lack of spots may be due to leucism, a genetic condition that causes a loss of pigmentation. Alternatively, a spotless ladybug could be a different species.

Ladybugs have evolved spots as a defence mechanism to deter predators, so while spotless ladybugs are not perceived as poisonous as spotted ladybugs, they are still brightly coloured, which scares off potential predators.

Do Ladybug Spots Tell You Their Age?


A ladybug’s spots do not indicate its age. Ladybugs can only live up to a year, making it impossible for their spots to determine their age because the most spots a ladybug has are 24. The number of spots can only help you identify the species because most have a specific number of spots. For example, Coccinella septempunctata has seven spots, while Coccinella novemnotata has nine.

Are Ladybugs Born With Their Spots?


Ladybugs are not born with their spots. The spots do not appear immediately after hatching but develop over time. The number of spots they have are predetermined by the genes of the ladybug species.

Can You Tell a Ladybug’s Gender by Its Spots


The number and pattern of spots on a ladybug do not indicate its gender. Both male and female ladybugs can have spots on their bodies.

The only way to determine the gender of a ladybug is by examining its physical characteristics, such as size and shape. Males are typically smaller and thinner, while females are larger and rounder.