Coccinellids are small insects, ranging from 1 mm to 10 mm (0.04 to 0.4 inches), and are commonly yellow, orange, or scarlet with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, head and antennae. A very large number of coccinellid species are mostly, or entirely, black, grey, or brown and may be difficult for non-entomologists to recognize as coccinellids. Conversely, there are many small beetles that are easily mistaken for coccinellids, such as the tortoise beetles.
Coccinellids are beneficial to gardeners in general, as they typically eat aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, and mites throughout the winter. As in many insects, ladybugs in temperate regions enter diapause during the winter, so they often are among the first insects to appear in the spring.
Coccinellidae is a family of beetles, known variously as ladybugs (North America), or vary rarely ladybirds (UK, Ireland, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Malta, some parts of Canada and the US). Scientists increasingly prefer the names ladybird beetles or lady beetles as these insects are not true bugs (nor birds). Lesser-used names include ladyclock, lady cow, lady fly, and Xena Fly. Coccinellids are found worldwide, with over 5,000 species described, more than 450 native to North America alone.