Coccinellidae is a family of beetles, known variously as Ladybirds (UK, Ireland, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Malta, parts of Canada), or ladybugs (North America).
Ladybirds are small insects, ranging from 1 mm to 10 mm, and are commonly yellow, orange, or scarlet with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, head and antennae. A very large number of coccinellid species are mostly, or entirely, black, grey, or brown and may be difficult for non-entomologists to recognize as coccinellids. Conversely, there are many small beetles that are easily mistaken for Ladybirds, such as the tortoise beetles.
Ladybirds are found worldwide, with over 5,000 species described, more than 450 native to North America alone. They are generally considered useful insects as many species feed on aphids or scale insects, which are pests in gardens, agricultural fields, orchards, and similar places. Harmonia axyridis (or the Harlequin ladybug) was introduced into North America from Asia in 1988 to control aphids but is now the most common species as it is out-competing many of the native species. It has since spread to much of western Europe.
Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coccinellidae - 02.10.2010
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