After setting up our ladybird world, observing their metamorphosis, then releasing our ladybirds last year, all three boys absolutely love ladybirds. While Cian was making ladybirds and Finny was doing some ladybird maths, Ioan decided to learn more about the anatomy of a ladybird.
He discovered that there are eight parts which make up a ladybird’s anatomy. These are the head, antenna, eyes, pronotum, thorax, elytra, wings, and legs.
- Insect Lore ladybird life cycle figurines
- Coloured pencils
He researched in books, then excitedly shared what he had found. A ladybird is an insect and it has most of the same anatomical parts as every other insect, as well as a few parts that are distinctive to the ladybird. Ladybirds belong to the family of beetles called coccinellidae, which means ‘dressed in red’.
There are 47 species in the UK and of these around 26 types are easily recognisable as ladybirds, being brightly coloured and spotty. These colours and patterns are thought to warn predators of the ladybird’s bad taste and poison. Sometimes, though, the ladybird will be a solid colour with no pattern at all, and can be yellow, brown, or black.
The ladybird has three major body parts, and these are the head, thorax, and abdomen.
Head and thorax
The ladybird’s head is flat and thin and contains it’s mouth, eyes, and antennae. A ladybird has two eyes but doesn’t see very well, it can only see the difference between dark and light, not colours. The antenna is what helps a ladybug smell, taste, and feel its way around. As ladybirds can’t see as well as they can smell, this is how they find the tiny bugs that they eat.
The thorax, which is called the pronotum, is a body segment of the ladybird that is right behind the flat head, meaning people (and predators) often confuse it as part of one large round head. The pronotum’s primary purpose is to help protect the head of the ladybird and help to disguise it during dangerous situations. Sometimes the pronotum will have spots on it, too.
The abdomen is the body section where the legs, wings and elytra are attached. It holds all the ladybird’s internal organs, including their digestive system and reproductive organs. Ioan was vey excited that this is where the stinky, poisonous gel can be found.
Ladybirds have long, transparent wings that they fold under their bright, spotted wing cases when they’re not in use. These wing cases, or elytra, protect their wings and show the ladybird’s colours and patterns to predators to warn them off. The elytra is symmetrical, so will be exactly the same on the right side as it is on the left.
Ladybird legs are always black and short. They are not only for moving around, but they are also used by ladybirds to gather scents. It is also where the foul-smelling liquid oozes out when a predator tries to eat them.
DfES Outcomes for EYFS and National Curriculum (2013)
Science Year 1 programme of study
Animals, including humans
- identify and name a variety of common animals including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals
Science Year 2 programme of study
Living things and their habitats
- identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited and describe how different habitats provide for the basic needs of different kinds of animals and plants, and how they depend on each other
- identify and name a variety of plants and animals in their habitats, including micro-habitats