by April Reinhardt
(last updated June 23, 2009)
Many people confuse ladybugs with the Japanese lady beetle, since they are so similar in appearance. Both insects come from the same family of beetles known as Coccinellidae, with over five thousand known species. In North American, the Japanese lady beetle is called the Asian lady beetle, but in other parts of the world it is known as the Harlequin, Multivariate, Japanese, Pumpkin, or Southern ladybird, the Multicolored Asian lady beetle, and the Halloween lady beetle. While its distant cousin, the ladybug, is known as the ladybird, ladybug, lady beetle, ladyclock, lady cow, and lady fly.
Let's make this a little easier by listing the differences between a ladybug and a Japanese lady beetle:
Japanese lady beetles are not native to the United States. The USDA introduced and released them into the country in the late 70's and early 80's as a biological control measure, but the measure failed. Yet, in 1988, the Japanese lady beetle arrived in the US on an Asian freighter and decided to stay. The insect has grown in population since then, making a positive impact by helping to control the destructive aphid population in tree farms.
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