Beneficial Insect — Ladybugs (Lady Beetles)
Common Name: Ladybugs
Ladybugs share a characteristic shape – a dome-shaped back and a flat underside. Ladybug
elytra display bold colors and markings, usually red, orange, or yellow with black spots.
Ladybugs walk on short legs, which tuck away under the body. Their short antennae form a
slight club at the end. The ladybug's head is almost hidden beneath a large pronotum.
Ladybug mouthparts are modified for chewing.
Male ladybugs have more hair-like structures called setae on the last segment of their abdomen.
The have large prominent bands on the underside between the segments with a notch on the posterior
Female ladybugs are usually slightly larger than males. Female ladybugs do not have lots of setae, just a few on the last segment on the underside of their
abdomen. They do not have large prominent bands between the segments or a notch on the rounded
Test your knowledge: Take the Ladybug Quiz.
Most ladybugs are predators with ravenous appetites for aphids and other soft-bodied
insects. Adult ladybugs will eat several hundred aphids before mating and laying eggs on the
infested plants. Ladybug larvae feed on aphids as well.
Ladybugs lay eggs in clusters. mainly on the underside of leaves, and usually on or near plants with a
sufficient population of aphids, scales or mealybugs.
Ladybug eggs look similar to small jelly beans and are arranged in clusters. See image opposite of an
adult female ladybug laying a cluster of eggs.
After 3 – 12 days, larvae of ladybugs hatch from the eggs. Larvae are elongated and look similar to a
tiny alligator. Their bodies are covered with bristles. Some larvae have black spots or bands of bright
color which will eventually form to create their adult spots. Image below is a typical example of a
These tiny larvae have an insatiable appetite, during this stage single larvae devour hundreds of
aphids. They not only dine on aphids, but they also eat other soft-bodied insects including scale
insects, mites, adelgids, and insect eggs. They cannot fly at this stage so will seek out food locally.
They may also eat eggs of other species too.
After hatching out, the larva is in its first instar (a phase between two periods of molting). It eats and
eats until it grows in size, breaks out of its shell (cuticle) and molts. Usually, a larva molts four times in
total before it becomes a pupa. Now, this larva will attach itself to leaf when it is ready to pupate.
After the larval stage, comes the pupa stage. Pupae are usually yellow or orange with dark markings.
In this stage pupa is still, attached to a leaf, it’s body experiences striking change. Pupal stage may last
for 3 to 12 days, depending upon the species, temperature, and environment also play a factor. image
shows a ladybug in mid pupa progress.
As soon as the metamorphosis is complete, a beautiful soft bodied adult ladybug emerges. This
recently emerged ladybug does not look like the one we see in our gardens. It appears pale, golden or
even pinkish when only a couple of hours old.
Ladybugs reproduce sexually. The exact ladybug courting ritual is not precisely known. They all emit
pheromones to help attract a suitable mate and begin the process of mating. As soon as male finds a
suitable mating partner he mounts on top of her from behind and grips tightly with his front four legs.
This process of copulating can last for up to two hours. Female ladybugs can have more than one
partner while mating. She can store sperm for up to 3 months before she’s ready to lay eggs.
A female ladybug lays her eggs where there’s an abundant supply of food, often near to colonies of
aphids. If food availability is insufficient, she’ll lay both fertilized and unfertilized eggs alongside each
other, so that larvae, when hatched, can feed on unfertilized eggs to satisfy their body’s immediate
Their gestation period lasts for 4 – 7 weeks. The number of offsprings depends upon the type of
species but eggs are laid usually in clusters of 10-15 eggs, usually 1 – 2 weeks.
Release at dusk, after spraying some plants with water, so they can drink. Release
near infestations in small amounts over a two week period. Release Rates: 1,600 ladybugs
covers aprox.100 sq. feet. Half pint covers aprox. 3,000 sq. feet. 1 gallon covers aprox.
1 - 5 acres Heavy infestations use 1-2 gallons per acre.