Vocabulary In Context Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​One of the best ways to improve your reading skills is by being able to identify synonyms. This is the art of looking through a text for words that have the same or similar meaning to words in the question.

We have 2 previous interactive exercises that can help you learn more about studying vocabulary in texts:
Vocabulary in Context 1 
Vocabulary in Context 2 

Read the text below and then complete the task below.

Use this text as an opportunity to practice skimming: First, skim (read quickly for general meaning of the text) each paragraph and look for the topic sentence of the paragraph and key words (words you think might be important). Do this in 3 minutes.

Now you can read the word definitions and scan for them in the text. Place the word you find in the box by the definition by clicking/touching the word, then clicking/touching the box.

The Biology of Coccinellids (Ladybirds)


Coccinellids (ladybirds) are best known as predators of insects such as aphids, but the range of prey species that they attack is much wider. A genus of small black ladybirds, Stethorus, is one example of predation on non-aphids; they specialise in mites as prey, notably spider mites.

Various larger species of Coccinellidae attack caterpillars and other beetle larvae. Several genera feed on various insects or their eggs; for example, Coleomegilla species are significant predators of the eggs and larvae of moths such as species of Spodoptera and the Plutellidae. Larvae and eggs of ladybirds, either their own or of other species, can also be important food resources when alternative prey are scarce. As a family, the Coccinellidae used to be regarded as purely carnivorous, but they are now known to be far more omnivorous than previously thought, both as a family and in individual species; examination of gut contents of them reveals residues of pollen and other plant materials. Besides the prey they favour, most predatory coccinellids include other items in their diets, including honeydew, pollen, plant sap, nectar, and various fungi. The significance of such non-prey items in their diets is still under investigation and discussion.

Apart from Coccinellidae that have a general diet of insects and occasional substances of botanical origin , many Coccinellidae do prefer certain prey types. This makes some of them particularly valuable as agents in biological control programs as they can be used to target certain pests that eat crops.

Certain species of coccinellids are thought to lay extra, infertile eggs with the fertile eggs, apparently to provide a backup food source for the larvae when they hatch. The ratio of infertile to fertile eggs increases with scarcity of food at the time of egg laying by the mother. This strategy helps to ensure the new generation have adequate food immediately after they hatch from eggs.  

Click or touch a word above
1. An animal which is hunted by a predator. (paragraph 1)
2. The young form of an insect or beetle. (paragraph 2)
3. An adjective which means important. (paragraph 2)
4. A creature which eats both meat and plants. (paragraph 2)
5. A synonym for the verb ‘show’. (paragraph 2)
6. A four-word phrase meaning that something comes from a plant. (paragraph 3)
7. A three-word phrase meaning an alternative supply of nourishment. (paragraph 4)
8. A lack of something. (paragraph 4)

If you would like to improve your reading skills, try an IELTS reading test with a walk-through to explain the answers. 

Up next is Vocabulary in Context 4!

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