This is the 19-spotted ladybug, very common in Bloomington, Indiana, where the picture was taken in the summer of 1999. Count the spots on its elytra! They are 19 in total. Although they are placed symmetrically, they make an odd number due to the middle one -- just over the thorax -- which is split half on the left elytron and half on the right one. (The bright white spot on its back is a reflection of the sunlight.) On its thorax, this species has the characteristic M-shaped figure, made out of joined black spots.
Ladybugs love to eat aphids, and other small insects. It is interesting to think that such a lovely bug is a predator. They have a foul taste due to a substance they secrete, so most other predators do not consider ladybugs a favorite diet item.
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