Students will learn about the value and importance of ladybugs. Using their understanding of the positive role this insect plays in horticulture, they will then create catchy advertisements for ladybugs, intended to appeal to farmers or gardeners.
Ladybugs aren't really bugs at all. They are beetles, a kind of insect. There are more than 4,000 species of ladybugs worldwide. About 400 of these are found in the United States. Many scientists think that ladybugs got their name about 500 years ago in England. Ladybugs come in a rainbow of colors including yellow, orange, pink, and red. Some are black with red spots and some have no spots at all.
In some parts of the world, people believe that ladybugs are a sign of good luck. Long ago they were ground up and used as cures for stomachaches and measles, among other ailments. Ladybugs smell a bit like dead leaves. But you need to have a lot of ladybugs in one place to smell them.
These fascinating beetles also have very fragile wings that are protected by a tough substance called chitin. This is the same stuff that human fingernails are made of. When ladybugs fly, their wings flap 85 times a second! Birds don't usually eat ladybugs, because ladybugs secrete a yellow oil from their leg joints that smells as bad as it tastes.
A favorite food for ladybugs is the aphid, a small insect that sucks the sap from plant stems and leaves, causing them to die. Their appetite for aphids has made ladybugs the most popular and best-known form of biological pest control. Ladybugs are typically used in gardens and greenhouses.
A female ladybug can eat 75 aphids every day. A male ladybug can eat 40 aphids. Some ladybugs eat 5,000 aphids in the course of their lives. Other favorite foods of ladybugs are whiteflies, mealybugs, scales, mites, and such soft-bodied insects as fruitworm, cabbage moth, and tomato hornworm.
What You Need
- Scientific reference materials pertaining to ladybugs, especially photographs
- One or more examples of appealing advertisements from magazines (These can be general ads or those that specifically promote farming or gardening supplies such as fertilizers, seeds, etc.)
- Crayons or magic markers
- Ladybugs for Sale! (PDF file)
What to Do
- Show students a few drawings or photos of ladybugs.
- Discuss how ladybugs can protect crops from insect pests.
- Display selected advertisements from magazines.
- Discuss with students how an ad gets its message across. Use the following questions to help guide this discussion: What is the product that is advertised? What does the ad say is good or useful about this product? How does the ad grab your attention and make you want to know more about the product? For whom is the ad intended (e.g., farmers, students, homeowners, etc.)?
- Pass out copies of the Ladybugs for Sale! worksheet, along with art supplies.
- Have students, working individually or with a partner, create catchy and colorful advertisements for ladybugs. Encourage them to use both words and illustrations to make points about ladybugs.
Ladybugs Coloring Pages
At this Web site, you'll find 11 distinct drawings of ladybugs. These easy-to-print drawings are fun for students to color.
Going Buggy! ... Ladybugs
Created by an elementary school teacher, this site features songs, poems, and activities used in the classroom and focused on ladybugs. There is also a list of recommended books and a variety of links.