Golden Ladybug (gold lady beetle): Fascinating Facts and Secrets Revealed

The Golden Ladybug, also known as the gold lady beetle, is a fascinating and beneficial insect commonly found in gardens and natural surroundings. These brightly colored beetles are not only visually striking, but they also play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems by feeding on various pests, such as aphids.

Attracted to vibrant plants and flowers, the gold lady beetle can be a welcome addition to any garden space. These insects are known to be particularly fond of warm, sunny environments, seeking out food sources and laying their eggs on the undersides of leaves.

As natural predators, Golden Ladybugs contribute to pest management by keeping plant-damaging insects in check – a valuable characteristic for gardeners and farmers alike. So, by fostering the presence of these tiny helpers, you can have a healthier, more vibrant garden without the need for harsh chemical pesticides.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Shape

Golden ladybugs, also known as lady beetles or ladybirds, have a distinct oval shape. Their size generally ranges from about 1/4 – 3/8 inches in length, making them easily identifiable amongst their peers. Here are some key comparisons:

Feature Golden Ladybug Other Lady Beetles
Shape Oval Hemispherical, Circular, or Oval
Size 1/4 – 3/8 inches Variable, but similar

Color and Iridescence

The color of golden lady beetles varies between species, but they typically exhibit a gold or metallic hue that may include shades of red, yellow, and orange. Their elytra, or wing covers, display black spots which further differentiate them from other lady beetles. The following characteristics can be observed:

  • Metallic gold hue, sometimes with red, yellow or orange shades
  • Black spots on their elytra
  • Shiny and iridescent appearance

Antennae and Elytra

Golden lady beetles have short antennae, allowing them to tuck their head beneath their pronotum or the area behind their head. Their elytra are responsible for their characteristic shiny and iridescent appearance. Here are the unique features:

  • Short antennae, enabling head tucking
  • Iridescent and shiny elytra

Biology and Life Cycle

Eggs and Larvae

Golden ladybugs, like other lady beetle species, have a life cycle that includes eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. Female ladybugs lay their eggs on leaves or stems, usually in close proximity to an aphid colony, providing larvae with an immediate food source upon hatching. Some features of eggs and larvae are:

  • Eggs are small, yellow, and oval-shaped
  • Larvae resemble tiny alligators and change in size as they develop through four stages (instars)

Larvae are voracious predators and consume many aphids during their development.

Pupae and Adults

After the larvae reach their final instar, they enter the pupal stage. Pupae attach themselves to a substrate and transform into adults within a protective casing. The features of pupae and adults include:

  • Pupae are immobile and appear as a small, shiny capsule
  • Adult golden ladybugs have a distinctive gold coloration with or without spots

Here’s a comparison table to illustrate the differences between life stages:

Life Stage Appearance Mobility Food Source
Eggs Small, yellow, oval-shaped No None
Larvae Tiny alligator-like, dark in color Yes Aphids
Pupae Shiny, capsule-like No None
Adults Gold color, with or without spots Yes Aphids, nectar, pollen

Golden ladybugs, like their colorful relatives, are essential predators of soft-bodied insects such as aphids, benefiting gardens and ecosystems.

Habitat and Distribution

The golden ladybug, also known as the gold lady beetle, is not a single species, but rather a term used to describe ladybugs with a golden appearance. They can be found across various habitats worldwide. In North America, over 450 species of lady beetles exist, including some with a golden hue 1.

California hosts the convergent lady beetle (Hippodamia convergens), commonly found in forests, meadows, and gardens 2. In comparison, the Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) originates from Asia and has now established itself in the Americas 3.

Key Features:

  • Golden appearance
  • Diverse habitats
  • Worldwide distribution

Comparing convergent lady beetle (native to California) to the Asian lady beetle, we can observe some differences:

Feature Convergent Lady Beetle Asian Lady Beetle
Habitat Forests, meadows Gardens, crops
Distribution California, US Americas, Asia
Impact on native ecosystem Positive, beneficial Variable

While both species can be beneficial to the ecosystem by consuming pests, the Asian lady beetle has been known to have a varying impact depending on its location. It is important to appreciate the differences between these species and understand their distribution in various habitats across continents.

Diet and Predators

The golden ladybug, also known as the gold lady beetle, is a beneficial insect for controlling pests in gardens and other environments. Their diet mainly consists of:

  • Aphids
  • Scale insects

These insects prefer to feed on soft-bodied pests like aphids and scale insects, which are often found on the leaves of various plants. As a predator, the golden ladybug is quite effective in controlling the population of these pests.

However, they also face some predators themselves. Common predators of the golden ladybug include:

  • Birds
  • Spiders
  • Other insects

A comparison between aphids and scale insects, the primary food source for golden ladybugs, can be highlighted in the table below:

Aphids Scale Insects
Size 1-7mm 1-5mm
Appearance Pear-shaped, soft-bodied Oval, waxy or armored
Damages Suck plant sap Suck plant sap
Reproduction Asexual and sexual Sexual

By feeding on these garden pests, golden ladybugs play a vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Their presence can be beneficial to gardeners and farmers alike, as they help reduce the need for chemical pest control methods.

Beneficial Role in Agriculture

Pest Control

Golden ladybugs, also known as gold lady beetles, are valuable allies for farmers and gardeners. They play a crucial role in controlling garden pests, primarily by feeding on aphids, which can damage a variety of crops like corn. Some benefits include:

  • Less dependency on insecticides: By controlling pests naturally, they help reduce the need for chemical insecticides, which can harm beneficial insects and the environment.
  • Cost-effective: Golden ladybugs are a cost-effective way for farmers to manage pests in their fields and gardens.

To illustrate their efficiency, let’s compare golden ladybugs to another pest control method:

Pest Control Method Effectiveness Environmental Impact Cost
Golden Ladybugs High Low Low
Chemical Insecticides High High High

Pollination

Apart from being excellent pest controllers, golden ladybugs also contribute to the pollination process. While they primarily feed on insects, these beetles also consume pollen and nectar. This helps transfer pollen between flowers, promoting fertilization and fruit production in crops. For example:

  • Golden ladybugs, along with other beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, can significantly boost corn yields through improved pollination.
  • Farmers and gardeners can attract golden ladybugs, and other pollinators, by planting diverse flowering plants within or near their crops or gardens.

In summary, golden ladybugs play a vital role in agriculture by helping with pest control and pollination. They offer an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution, benefiting farmers, and the environment.

Golden Ladybug Lookalikes

The golden ladybug, also known as the gold lady beetle, is often mistaken for other insects due to its unique appearance. In this section, we will discuss a few common lookalikes, such as the golden tortoise beetle and tortoise beetle.

The golden tortoise beetle (Charidotella sexpunctata) is one insect that closely resembles the golden ladybug. Some key similarities and differences between the two include:

  • Both insects have a metallic gold appearance.
  • Golden ladybugs are typically round or oval-shaped, while golden tortoise beetles have a more flattened body.
  • Tortoise beetle larvae generally have a unique, spiky appearance, unlike ladybug larvae.

Another lookalike is the tortoise beetle (Cassidinae), a group of beetles that share some similarities with the golden ladybug:

  • Many tortoise beetles display metallic or bright coloration.
  • Like golden ladybugs, tortoise beetles are beneficial insects, feeding on pests.
  • However, their body shape is more akin to the golden tortoise beetle, with a flattened and shield-like appearance.
Feature Golden Ladybug Golden Tortoise Beetle Tortoise Beetle
Metallic gold color Yes Yes Some species
Round/oval body shape Yes No No
Beneficial insect Yes Yes Yes
Larvae appearance Alligator-like Spiky Varies by species

In conclusion, although the golden ladybug shares some characteristics with its lookalikes, it is essential to understand their differences when identifying these fascinating insects.

Cultural Significance and Misconceptions

The Golden Ladybug, also known as the Goldsmith Beetle, is often seen as a symbol of luck. However, there are some misconceptions that surround this fascinating insect.

  • Luck: Due to their rarity and striking appearance, Golden Ladybugs are sometimes considered lucky charms in various cultures.

  • Identifying: The Gold Lady Beetle can be recognized by its vibrant metallic gold color, making it stand out from other ladybug species. It belongs to the Rutilidae family, known for their golden-gleaming appearances.

  • Paint: Some people might mistake a painted ladybug for a Golden Ladybug, but real ones have a natural metallic sheen on their wings.

  • Camouflage: Unlike other ladybug species that use bright colors to warn predators, the Golden Ladybug’s unique appearance may serve as camouflage in certain environments.

  • Bite: There is a misconception that Golden Ladybugs bite humans. However, they are not known to be aggressive or harmful to humans.

  • Aggressive: Golden Ladybugs are primarily focused on consuming aphids and other pests, not bothering with humans.

Feature Golden Ladybug Average Ladybug
Color Metallic gold Red or orange
Camouflage Possible Warning colors
Bite No No
Aggressiveness Not towards humans Not towards humans

Footnotes

  1. Lady Beetles – Cornell University

  2. Ladybug – U.S. National Park Service

  3. Asian Lady Beetle | US Forest Service

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – gold ladybug? or Tortoise Beetle

 

I found a very interesting bug on my sunflowers, it resembles a lady bug in size and shape, but the body, when I found it, was a bright gold, but the wings are a translucent opalescent color. It caught my eye because I thought it was a shiny gold bead stuck to the leaf. When I put the bug in a jar, its color changed to a ladybug red, but without the black dots. I would send a picture, but not able to get one scanned. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and know a ladybug when I see it, but I have never seen a gold ladybug, or a gold ANY bug.
Thanks
Dear Joanni,
I love when someone writes in about a new insect to add to our list. You have found a Tortoise Beetle, also known as a Gold Bug, probably Coptocycla aurichalcea var. bicolor, also known as Metriona bicolor. Lutz quotes Harris as saying “When living it has the power of changing its hues, at one time appearing only of a dull yellow color, and at other times shining with the splendor of polished brass or gold, tinged sometimes also with variable tints of pearl. The wing-covers, the parts wihch exhibit a change of color, are lined beneath with an orange colored paint, which seems to be filled with little vessels; and these are probably the source of the changeable brilliancy of the insect.” Lutz also writes that the “larva are called peddlers” because they carry their cast off skins after molting, appearing like a bit of mud or bird dropping. They eat sweet potato and Convolvulaceae, members of the morning glory family.

Tortoise Beetle (from our archives)

Letter 2 – gold ladybug?

 

I found a very interesting bug on my sunflowers, it resembles a lady bug in size and shape, but the body, when I found it, was a bright gold, but the wings are a translucent opalescent color. It caught my eye because I thought it was a shiny gold bead stuck to the leaf. When I put the bug in a jar, its color changed to a ladybug red, but without the black dots. I would send a picture, but not able to get one scanned. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and know a ladybug when I see it, but I have never seen a gold ladybug, or a gold ANY bug.
Thanks
Dear Joanni,
I love when someone writes in about a new insect to add to our list. You have found a Tortoise Beetle, also known as a Gold Bug, probably Coptocycla aurichalcea var. bicolor, also known as Metriona bicolor. Lutz quotes Harris as saying “When living it has the power of changing its hues, at one ti
me appearing only of a dull yellow color, and at other times shining with the splendor of polished brass or gold, tinged sometmes also with variable tints of pearl. The wing-covers, the parts wihch exhibit a change of color, are lined beneath with an orange colored paint, which seems to be filled with little vessels; and these are probably the source of the changeable brilliancy of the insect.” Lutz also writes that the “larva are called peddlers” because they carry their cast off skins after molting, appearing like a bit of mud or bird dropping. They eat sweet potato and Convolvulaceae, members of the morning glory family.

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

46 thoughts on “Golden Ladybug (gold lady beetle): Fascinating Facts and Secrets Revealed”

  1. I found one of these gold bugs in my daughters hair today, April 23, 2013, and had no idea what it was until I read these posts about it. I noticed that it is written in Lincoln, Nebraska which is really cool because I am in Longview, Washington and never seen anything like it.

    Reply
  2. I found this Gold bug stuck to my door. It looked like a miniature lady bug. I got nervous about germs so I flicked it off my hand. Maybe I should have kept it. I live in Drayton, Ontario, which is no where hear Nebraska. any comments

    Reply
  3. We just found one on a morning glory in Newport, RI ……very pretty but does it eat the leaves? On the leaf where we found it are many holes.

    Reply
  4. I also, found a tiny gold bug on my sweet potato vine last week. I took the leaf it was on and place it inside a glass jar with air holes punched in the lid. The leaf had a small eaten-out hole where the bug was (obviously made by the gold bug )
    Today after checking the bug and the wilting leaf with many more holes now, I placed a fresh leaf in the jar and immediately the bug began to eat on this new leaf. The bug is still a beautiful “golden”.color I feel so bad to keep it confined OR to release it to devour other plants. What do I do ? My camera doesn’t recognize the color GOLD, It just looks black in the picture. This is the 1st. gold bug I have seen since I was a little girl, many years ago. I placed it innocently inside my pocket to show my Mother—( and I’m sure you know the rest of that story !) LOL

    Reply
  5. I also, found a tiny gold bug on my sweet potato vine last week. I took the leaf it was on and place it inside a glass jar with air holes punched in the lid. The leaf had a small eaten-out hole where the bug was (obviously made by the gold bug )
    Today after checking the bug and the wilting leaf with many more holes now, I placed a fresh leaf in the jar and immediately the bug began to eat on this new leaf. The bug is still a beautiful “golden”.color I feel so bad to keep it confined OR to release it to devour other plants. What do I do ? My camera doesn’t recognize the color GOLD, It just looks black in the picture. This is the 1st. gold bug I have seen since I was a little girl, many years ago. I placed it innocently inside my pocket to show my Mother—( and I’m sure you know the rest of that story !) LOL

    Reply
  6. Thanks for the question!! Just saw one for the 1st time today! Gorgeous! I live in sub-rural central Oklahoma and my husband walked in from mowing and had this beautiful bug on his shirt! I immediately googled!! Hasn’t changed colors yet..was gonna watch for a little while and let it go..very cool!! thanks again!

    Reply
  7. We just found a beautiful specimen in our flower garden; it either is eating the leaves of one of our plants or it is frequenting a plant that someone else is eating. We are in the Hudson Valley about 80 miles north of NYC and neither of us had seen this golden tortoise beetle before. Are the common here and we have just not been attentive enough or is this one an exotic for our region of the state?

    Reply
  8. Found one of these beautiful bugs just his morning on a leaf in our garden. Never seen before. Wondering where their native habitat is? thanks

    Reply
  9. First time my wife and I have seen one of these pretty little bugs. We live in northern part of Wyoming ,Sheridan to be exact
    the weather must help in migration and ours has had a lot of moisture.

    Reply
  10. First time my wife and I have seen one of these pretty little bugs. We live in northern part of Wyoming ,Sheridan to be exact
    the weather must help in migration and ours has had a lot of moisture.

    Reply
  11. We found one of these gold bugs on our deck plants, potato vines in Allendale MI. We had never seen them before! It looked alien it was so shinny gold! Maybe it wasn’t the earwigs eating the leaves!

    Reply
  12. Been wondering what was eating my morning glories. I just happened to look down and thought that I saw a drop of gold laying in the flowerbed. Looking closer there appeared to be two insects mating. One was the brightest ,shiniest gold I have ever seen on an insect . Mounted on its back was a opalescent, silvery mate of equal iridescence. I have seen fireflies every summer of my life ,but never these dazzling wonders. I live in Texas, outside of San Antonio, on the way to Houston.Truly, these bugs look as though they are from another World. Unfortunately, they flew off before I considered catching them and taking a photo. Well, it appears that they will not eat my scarlet runner. and I love these little bugs so much, I think I might just plant extra morning glories for them.

    Reply
  13. I have been on this earth for over 40 years and never saw one till today – I bought two beautiful vine chartreuse color outdoor plants ( possibly potato plant ) it was so beautiful!

    Reply
  14. I live in New Madison, Ohio and I was standing there looking at my dads little memorial stone in my garden and the gold ladybug landed on the morning glory vine, It was amazing to me. I thought no one would believe me if I told them, but sure enough I looked it up and there is such a bug

    Reply
    • Tortoise Beetles are not related to Lady Beetles. Tortoise Beetles feed on leaves and they might be considered undesirable in some gardens.

      Reply
  15. I was with my mom gardening, then I came across a golden speck on a leaf. I had no idea what it was, if it was harmful……I told my mom about it and she thought it was cool, I set it down gently and it scurried away. I went on a bunch of websites and I happened to come across this one and it was very helpful……..I should have kept it though!

    Reply
  16. Found one of these interesting little bugs when I turned over a morning glory leaf with holes. Sat down with it in my hand, tiny solid gold bug … and then it turned ladybug red color with tiny blackspots near the end of its wings and its tiny little antennae came out and it flew away from the palm of my hand. Was originally looking to eradicate little green worms from my rose bush. Sawflies? Where do they cocoon?

    Reply
  17. I was playing bowls at my club in Harare, Zimbabwe, and saw something gold shining in the grass. It looked like a ladybird (maybe what others call a
    bug?). I put it under a glass so I could take it home to photograph, but felt
    sorry for it so put it inside – of course it flew off! After reading posts,
    I’m going to check out all Morning Glories in my retirement village and try
    and grow sweet potatoes. Was just so beautiful, made my day. Had never seen one before (am 84)

    Reply
  18. I was playing bowls at my club in Harare, Zimbabwe, and saw something gold shining in the grass. It looked like a ladybird (maybe what others call a
    bug?). I put it under a glass so I could take it home to photograph, but felt
    sorry for it so put it inside – of course it flew off! After reading posts,
    I’m going to check out all Morning Glories in my retirement village and try
    and grow sweet potatoes. Was just so beautiful, made my day. Had never seen one before (am 84)

    Reply
  19. hallelujah for the internet and the bug lovers guides…
    one landed on my arm today in Harpers Ferry WV on a hot May day and decided to go for a ride with me. It loves bright sunshine- turns golden quickly.Took it home . So unreal looking, i thought it was a drone for a minute. Love you all – connected by fascination …what next?

    Reply
  20. hallelujah for the internet and the bug lovers guides…
    one landed on my arm today in Harpers Ferry WV on a hot May day and decided to go for a ride with me. It loves bright sunshine- turns golden quickly.Took it home . So unreal looking, i thought it was a drone for a minute. Love you all – connected by fascination …what next?

    Reply
  21. Today June 27, 2020 -New Jersey – After 69 years I saw my first gold bug yesterday resting on my sweet potato leaf. WOW , a true gift from God. Today my son came home from work and I told him about my find. I asked him to guess what it is. He told me it was a Tortoise Beetle. I asked him how he knew. He said he saw two of them for the first time in his life two weeks ago at a friends house on a nightshade plant. I wonder if these bugs are more prevalent these days.

    Reply
  22. I am in far northern California and just saw two of these on one of the wooden slats of my compost bin. I had never seen one before. They were beautiful and I honestly thought they were metal beads at first. There are no morning glories in my garden this year but there is plenty of bindweed and they are welcome to it!

    Reply
  23. I found some of the gold bugs on my Tricolor Sweet Potato Vine. Is there a spray of vinegar or something I should use to get rid of them?

    Reply
  24. Thanks for the posts. I’m 70, have lived in GA all my life and never saw one of these little gold bugs. Today, I saw it on a morning glory vine and wanted to take a pic, but it was gone when I returned to the garden. It was so shiny & looked like a piece of jewelry. Beautiful creation!

    Reply
  25. I live in the panhandle of Nebraska, and am trying to grow berry plants, i.e. elder, straw, blue, and rasp. I was doing my early morning walk about, and looked down on my elderberry plants, and saw what I thought was a droplet of water. After not moving when I flicked the leaf, I was able to head it off onto the palm of my hand. I came back inside to see if it had a bad rap, like some ladybugs have gotten and came across this site. The other one I visited, was not worth my time to read. It basically played dead. I did take three pictures, to show how gold it actually is. I grabbed an empty glass and let it roll down the side and covered the top with a Rubbermaid lid. It has since climbed to the top and is looking to get back outside, of which I will do shortly

    Reply
  26. I live in Northern Indiana and I just had two of these mating on one of my hanging plants on the patio. I have never seen these before and had to find out what they were. They certainly are beautiful!

    Reply

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