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Why Do Ladybugs Have Spots? Do Dragonflies Bite?

Lots of red ladybugs with black spots hanging out on a rock.
Neil Bowman
Seven-spotted Ladybugs

This week, we're getting out our bug nets and talking about dragonflies and ladybugs! Why do ladybugs have spots? How many different types of ladybugs are there? How do ladybugs crawl on the ceiling without falling down? Where do flies and ladybugs sleep? Why are dragonflies called dragonflies? Do dragonflies bite?  We're joined by Kent McFarland a research biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and co-host of the VPR podcast Outdoor Radio.

Download our learning guide: PDF | Google Slide| Transcript


"My question is why do ladybugs have spots?" -Owen, 4, Seattle, Washington.

We think of ladybugs as red with black or white spots, but those only represent a quarter of the species of ladybugs. "There are other ladybugs that are black, brown, white, even other colors like yellows," says McFarland.

"The patterns are on them as a warning to birds and other predators that they might not want to eat them because they taste poorly."

Some ladybugs are named after the number of spots they have, like the nine-spotted lady bug, or the seven-spotted ladybug, or even a 20-spotted ladybugs. "But sometimes within those groups they can have a variety of spots, or even no spots, or a dozen or more spots!"

"How many different types of ladybugs are there?" -Hallelujah, Kigali, Rwanda

There are over 5,000 different species of ladybugs in the world. And there are about the same number of types of dragonflies and damselflies! We explain a lot more about both insects in our episode. Give it a listen!

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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