The Lifecycle of a Ladybug is an interesting topic to read about. There are so many things that happen in the life of this tiny bug! It starts with its birth, and then goes through stages as it grows into adulthood. This blog post will be going over all these phases and what they entail for the little ladybug.
Ladybugs can be found in gardens throughout America most of the year because they don’t spend time hibernating during winter like some other bugs do. This makes them easy to observe up close.
The Lifecycle of a Ladybug
There are many reasons why ladybugs should be studied. First, they play an important role in the ecosystem as a predator of other pests and diseases. They also have bright colors that make them easy to find and study!
Ladybugs provide researchers with reliable data because there is not much variation in their lifestyle or behavior between individuals. This makes them great for studying research questions about how different factors affect survival rates, growth rates, reproduction, etc.
What is a ladybug?
Ladybugs are found in over 5,000 different species around the world. Ladybugs are actually not bugs, but belong to a class of beetles known as ladybird beetles.
Coccinellidae is a family of tiny beetles that range in size from 1 mm to 10 mm in length. In North America, the family is known as ladybugs, but in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries, they’re known as ladybirds. Because these insects are not recognized as real bugs, entomologists prefer the titles ladybird beetles or lady beetles.
They appear in a variety of colors and patterns. However, the seven-spotted ladybug, with its brilliant red-and-black body, is the most well-known in North America. Ladybugs are considered lucky in many cultures, especially when they land on you.
After mating, the female lays between 10 and 50 eggs. Ladybugs lay their small yellow eggs on the underside of leaves, generally near an aphid colony. Each egg is long and spherical with a golden hue.
One female ladybug can lay up to 1,000 eggs during the spring and early summer. After the female lays eggs, they typically hatch within 3 to 10 days when the larvae emerges.
In most species, the eggs hatch into caterpillar-like larvae in a matter of days.
In the two weeks it takes for the larvae to fully mature, they eat hundreds of aphids.
The ladybug larva has a long, spiky body and is about 1/2 inch long. It has a black background with red, orange, or white patterns.
Although they have a frightening appearance, they will not hurt you or your plants. They will feed on plant pests for several weeks before pupating and emerging as adults.
Before entering the pupal stage, the larva will live and grow for roughly a month.
When the larvae are ready to progress to the next stage of their ladybug existence, they attach themselves to a surface, such as a plant leaf, with their bellies first. Motion and feeding both come to a halt.
A ladybug’s pupal stage is a period of change and stillness, with no movement. The process takes about a week and ends when the still, tiny lump emerges from its pupal skin.
Ladybugs are found in a range of settings around the world, including forests, meadows, agricultural fields, and, of course, your garden.
They typically spend their day hunting and flying. The forewings of adult ladybugs are protected by an exterior shell, or elytra, which has a smooth dome shape. A pair of narrow hind wings, which unfold in 0.1 seconds and are substantially larger than the ladybug’s body, is hidden underneath the outer shell.
Ladybug wings beat at a rate of 85 beats per second once unfolded. At night, ladybugs tuck their legs and head into their shell and rest for a period.
Lady beetles may thrive in aggregations of hundreds to thousands of individuals and spend the winter under leaf litter and around the roots of perennial bunch grasses and ground coverings.
Each ladybug species has its unique set of pheromones for courting a mate. When they discover one other, the male grabs her from behind and clings to her tightly. They have the ability to copulate (remain together) for up to 2 hours at a time. Before depositing eggs, female ladybugs can retain a male’s sperm for up to two months.
Why are ladybugs important to the environment?
Ladybugs are an integral part of insect habitats. Ladybugs, both adult and larval, are primarily known as aphid predators, although they also eat a variety of other soft-bodied insects and insect eggs.
Ladybugs are not usually eaten by birds or other vertebrates because they produce an unpleasant substance and frequently act dead to evade being eaten. Lady beetles are regularly killed by a variety of insects, including assassin bugs and stink bugs, as well as spiders and toads. Other predators include frogs, wasps, and dragonflies.
Ladybugs may even adapt to living on trees and feed on the hazardous insects that live there.
How many species of ladybugs exist in North America?
There are approximately 5,000 different species of ladybugs in the world, with 500 of those residing in the United States.
Ladybugs thrive all around the planet, except in extreme regions like the Arctic and Antarctic. Populations are less in colder areas, but the ladybug protects itself and hibernates longer in locations with brief warm seasons, but in more temperate areas, the ladybug continues to eat and lay eggs more readily.
For farmers, the Asian Lady Beetle was helpful in decreasing pesticide use by managing insect populations in our agricultural crops. However, since the 1970s, this invasive beetle has spread across the United States.
While all ladybugs are useful for eating aphids, scale insects, and mites, the Asian Lady Beetle has ravaged the populations of some North American ladybug species.
How long is the lifecycle of a ladybug?
The entire life cycle of a ladybug can take up to two years for some species. Typically, they live for about a year, although some species may live for up to 3 years.
What do ladybugs eat?
Ladybugs eat lots of aphids so they’re good for farms and gardens too! They also dine on scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites, and other eggs. A few ladybugs eat plant and pollen mildews, while many ladybugs eat pollen to augment their meat diet.
While they prefer to deposit their eggs on aphid-infested leaves, when prey is scarce, ladybugs will consume the eggs and larvae.
Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather, may have been the first to mention the lady beetle’s ability to control aphids in his book Phytologia, published in 1800. Vedalia beetles, an Australian coccinellid, were introduced to citrus trees in California in 1888 and are credited with preserving the industry.
How can you help make sure that your garden is hospitable to ladybugs and other beneficial insects?
Lady beetles will stay in the garden even if there are no aphids or other pests nearby if provided with nectar and pollen as alternatives. Plants such as dill and daisy are good pollen and nectar sources. You’ll want to avoid spraying them with pesticides, as they are harmful to insects.
Gardeners typically purchase ladybugs and store them until later use. Ladybugs in colder climates enter diapause, a sort of insect hibernation, instead of migrating south for the winter. Refrigeration mimics this natural process.
They remain dormant in a refrigerated container, right around 40 degrees, where they live off of stored body fat. Around 1,500 ladybugs are recommended for release within a home garden.
If we were to lose all ladybugs, including the invasive ones, it would be quite harmful to the health of our agricultural products and increase the demand for pesticides. Therefore, our little beetle friends are of vast importance to the health of gardens and crops worldwide.