Ladybugs are one of the crucial beloved useful bugs within the backyard, although most individuals, together with many gardeners, solely acknowledge grownup ladybugs. 

That’s comprehensible — immature ladybugs look nothing like their grownup kinds — however it’s necessary to get to know ladybugs throughout all levels of their life cycle so beneficials aren’t confused for pests. Actually, whereas ladybugs are well-known to devour aphids, ladybug larvae are extra voracious than the adults, consuming lots of of aphids earlier than pupating.


Lady beetle larva

The larvae of useful ladybugs can look a bit scary, however they’re nothing to be afraid of. They’re very useful to have across the backyard as a result of they’re voracious eaters of pests. (Photograph Credit score: Amy Prentice)


One other necessary factor to find out about ladybugs — which entomologists desire to name “woman beetles” — is that they aren’t bugs in any respect. Bugs are members of the order Hemiptera, whereas ladybugs fall beneath the order Coleoptera, the order that every one beetles belong to. A beetle goes by means of a whole metamorphosis between its larval section and reaching its grownup stage, often known as its imago, whereas an immature true bug is known as a nymph and already resembles its grownup type.  

The long-lasting ladybug look is pink with black spots, just like the North American native nine-spotted ladybug (Coccinella novemnotata) and the European native seven-spotted ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata), however ladybugs are available all types of shade mixtures. They are often yellow, orange, grey, black and even blue, with spots or stripes. The multicolored Asian woman beetle (Harmonia axyridis) has a lot variety in its colours and spot counts that one in every of its widespread names is harlequin, which implies “in different colours.”

Each the seven-spotted ladybird and the multicolored Asian woman beetle have been launched to the US for pest management. Whereas efficient at lowering aphid populations, they pose an ecological downside as a result of they outcompete native North American ladybugs. The three species all look alike throughout their larval levels, so making an attempt to root out non-natives whereas they’re immature could be an insurmountable activity.

Not each ladybug species is carnivorous. The ladybug household, Coccinellidae, additionally contains the subfamily Epilachninae, the plant-eating ladybugs. The squash ladybug, or squash beetle, (Epilachna borealis) is a backyard pest that assaults the vines, leaves and rinds of squash, pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers, and the Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) feeds on legumes. The excellent news for gardeners is that within the larval stage —when they’re yellow with lengthy black spikes — nobody would mistake these pests for useful ladybug larvae. 

Whether or not you name them ladybugs, ladybirds (the popular title within the U.Okay.) or woman beetles, right here’s what gardeners have to find out about this insect’s life cycle.


Asian lady beetle

An grownup Asian woman beetle, or Harmonia axyridis. Asian woman beetles crowd out native ladybugs in North America however are efficient pest management. (Photograph Credit score: Amy Prentice) (Photograph Credit score: Amy Prentice)



Predatory ladybugs lay clusters of wherever from 5 to 30 eggs on the underside of a leaf close to a meals supply — corresponding to an aphid colony. The eggs are yellow or orange, oval-shaped and stand on finish. 

Chances are you’ll spot the ladybug eggs on milkweed with an oleander aphid infestation. When the eggs hatch in two to 10 days, the larvae will get to work consuming the aphids.  


Lady beetle egg mass on a corn leaf

Ladybug eggs are yellow or orange, oval-shaped and stand on finish. Between 5 and 30 are laid in a cluster. (Photograph Credit score: R.L. Croissant, Bugwood.org)



Useful ladybug larvae appear to be little black alligators with orange spots or stripes. They’ve six black legs and begin out so small that they’re straightforward to overlook. On a gentle weight loss plan of aphids, scale and mites, they are going to shortly advance by means of 4 instars. Three weeks to a month after they hatched, they are going to be able to pupate.


Lady beetle larva

A seven-spotted ladybug larva. The species, Coccinella septempunctata, is native to Europe however extensively distributed in the US. (Photograph Credit score: Amy Prentice)



When a larva prepares to pupate, it hunkers down on a leaf and holds on. It molts its black, spiky pores and skin because it begins to take the form of an grownup ladybug. It goes from black with orange spots to yellow or pink with black spots, and undergoes metamorphosis over the course of 1 to 2 weeks.


Lady beetle pupating

When a ladybug larva pupates, it seems to be nothing prefer it did earlier than. After one or two weeks, the pupa matures into an grownup. (Photograph Credit score: Amy Prentice)



When an grownup ladybug emerges from the pupa, it takes a couple of minutes to get acclimated to its new type and spreads its wings — the primary time in its lifecycle that it will probably fly. A newly minted grownup can have a smooth yellow exoskeleton that quickly hardens and turns into the ladybug’s everlasting shade. The adults can dwell for as much as a yr, overwintering someplace out of the weather.


Asian lady beetle face and head

Asian woman beetles have all kinds of colours and patterns however are all the identical species,  Harmonia axyridis.  (Photograph Credit score: Amy Prentice). (Photograph Credit score: Amy Prentice)


I hope you have got gained an awesome understanding of the ladybug life cycle and tips on how to establish useful ladybugs in any respect levels of their development. Do you entice ladybugs to your backyard for pest management? Tell us within the feedback beneath.

Hyperlinks & Sources

Some product hyperlinks on this information are affiliate hyperlinks. See full disclosure beneath.

Episode 008: Natural Pest Management with Jeff Gillman

Episode 049: When Good Bugs Eat Unhealthy Bugs: The Enterprise of Useful Bugs

Episode 050: Natural Pest Management: Useful Bugs and Past

Episode 067: Predatory Useful Bugs: Feared Foes of Backyard Pests, Pt. 1

Episode 068: Prime Predatory Useful Bugs and Find out how to Entice Them

Episode 195: Figuring out and Controlling Backyard Pests Organically

Episode 219: Troublesome Backyard Pests: Natural Management Methods That Work

Episode 280: Find out how to Get Extra Useful Bugs in Your Backyard to Handle Insect Pests Naturally

joegardener free useful resource: 10 Widespread & Harmful Backyard Pests: Prevention & Management

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