- How Long Can Ladybugs Live in Winter? and How Do They Survive?
- Related Questions:
- Ladybird Beetle Identification Key
- A diagnostic guide to coccinellids in agricultural fields in Southeastern Minnesota
- What stage is your ladybird beetle?
- For further information please contact:
- Common Kentucky Lady Beetles
- Figure 3. Coleomegilla maculata is a pink lady beetle and is very common.
- Figure 4. Asian lady beetle is a beneficial insect in the field and nuisance pest in homes.
- Figure 5. Convergent lady beetle and larva in common and can be purchased commercially.
- Figure 6. Seven-spotted lady beetle is common on many crops.
- Plant Feeding Lady Beetles?
- Figure 7. While the squash beetle is a type of lady beetle, these feed only on plants and are considered pests.
- Figure 8. Mexican bean beetle attacks many different types of beans feeding on the undersides of leaves.
- Figure 9, Larvae of the Mexican bean beetle and squash beetle with their yellow bodies and spines look very different from other lady beetle larvae.
- Conserving Lady Beetles
- Lady Beetles
- Ladybugs are Everywhere!
- How Can I Tell The Difference Between Native Ladybugs and Asian Lady Beetles?
- How Do I Get Rid of Asian Lady Beetles?
- How Long is a Ladybugs Breeding Season?
- The Ladybug Mating Ritual
- Mating Across Species
- How To Tell If a Ladybug Is Pregnant
- How Long Before Female Ladybugs Lay Eggs
- When Do Ladybugs Lay Eggs?
- Where Do Ladybugs Prefer to Lay Eggs?
- How Many Eggs Do Ladybugs Lay?
- Do Ladybugs Watch Over Their Eggs?
- What Eats Ladybug Eggs?
- Final Thoughts
- It’s the Ask Dr. Universe Ladybug Lookout!
- How do we know the male from the female?
- Ladybug Facts, Identification, and Control in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut
- Other Characteristics
- More Information
- The page cannot be found
1. What do ladybugs eat?
A. Ladybugs eat Aphids. Aphids are soft bodied insects that suck the juices out of plants. If you have roses in your garden, you have seen aphids. Aphids also come in a variety of colors and not all ladybugs like all the “flavors” of aphids. Ladybugs will also feed on scale insects and plant mites.
2. Are ladybugs poisonous?
A. No. Ladybugs are not poisonous to humans. However, they can have toxic effects on some animals. Ladybugs have a foul odor which deters some predators from eating them and their bright colors also help as a deterrent. In nature, red and orange, are warning colors that indicate to another animal or insect that the potential “lunch item” might not be a good choice.
3. Ladybug Infestation! LadyBugs are In my HOUSE! Why?
A. They have probably been hibernating under the sliding of the house or apartment and the warmer temperatures have caused them to emerge- it’s just that they are going in the wrong direction. You would think that they would be trying to get out of the house, but they are coming in. It happens. This happens because of the variation in temperatures from the interior of the home verses the outside temperatures. The ladybugs are merely confused. Visit the Ladybug Infestation page for more details.
4. Why do ladybugs come into my house in the winter time?
A. Ladybugs are attracted to the light colored houses. Especially, homes that have a clear southwestern sun exposure. Older homes tend to experience more problem with aggregations due to lack of adequate insulation. The ladybugs come in through small cracks around windows, door ways and under clap boards. They want to hibernate in a warm, comfortable spot over the cold months of winter. Ladybugs gather in groups when they hibernate, so if you see one, you can be sure more will follow. The best way to keep them out is to repair damaged clap boards, window and door trim and to caulk small cracks.
5. Once the ladybugs are in my house, will they eat anything?
A. No. Ladybugs don’t eat fabric, plants, paper or any other household items. They like to eat APHIDS. Aphids are very small, but very destructive pest that feed on plants. (If you have rose bushes, you have probably seen aphids.) Ladybugs, while trying to hibernate in your house, live off of their own body fats. They, also, prefer a little humidity. But our homes are usually not very humid during the winter. In fact, they are rather dry causing most of your ladybug guests to die from dehydration. Occasionally, you might witness a ladybug in your bathroom getting a drink of water. Now, that’s a smart lady!
6. How can I get them out of my house?
A. If you don’t have a lot, just leave them. They will leave when spring arrives. Disturbing them will only cause them to stress out leaving yellow markings on your walls. The yellow stuff, you see, is not waste matter, but rather, their blood. Ladybugs release a small amount of their blood which is yellow and smells, when they sense danger. Some people have said that it does stain on light colored surfaces.
7. But, I really want the ladybugs out of my house!
A. Use a “shop vacuum”. This type of vacuum is easy to use for collect ladybugs. When using this to vacuum up ladybugs, use a clean bag or pad the bottom with a cloth. After all is clean, release the unwelcome guests outside.
8. Is there anything else I can use to get the ladybugs out of my house?
A. Yes. There is a product called a Ladybug Black Light Trap. It uses radiating black light to attract and contain the ladybugs.
9. I have to write a science report on ladybugs. Can you give me more information about their life?
A. You have come to the right place! There is tons of information here at the www.ladybuglady.com web site. Let me show you where to go. First start here; you are on the Questions and Answers page. There is information about the spots, the predators, the things they eat and why the the Asian Ladybug comes into people’s houses. Next, you can go to the Science Fair Information page. This page has all the Scientific information about a ladybug called Hippodamia convergens. There is info about their wings, antennae, legs, reproduction and more. This particular ladybug is native to all of North America and parts of South America. Next, if you want to see pictures of ladybugs, well, they are all over the website! But you will find most of them here on the Pictures of Ladybugs and Larva page. If you need pictures of what the ladybug likes to eat, go to Garden Eaters. Remember, you can always click on the BACK button at the top of your screen to come back to this page after looking at one of the other pages. Thanks for coming to www.ladybuglady.com Your report is going to turn out great! Good Luck.
10. We found ladybug eggs at our house. They hatched! What can we expect to see and how can we care for them, so that we can watch the life cycle?
A. Wow! This is a very exciting time at your house!!!! Depending on the species, and the temperatures, the ladybug larva can hatch out of the egg in 4-10 days. When the larva hatch out, they are so incredibly small, you will not want to move them or touch them. Depending on the species again, the first food of the larva is to eat the egg case that they just hatched out from.
After that anything is fair game, including the other larval siblings. You may also notice that the egg cases if left have turned white and dried out. After two days, bring aphids to the larva in the bug box, the smallest aphids possible. And often. Don’t add water quite yet. The larva could drown if over sprayed. They will get enough moisture from the aphids. After about four days, you will probably begin noticing the changing. They are growing and shedding the first of several skins. This process is called “in-star”. Because insects have an exoskeleton (outside skeleton), when the larva grow, they have to basically bust out of the exoskeleton to get bigger. The soft exoskeleton that is revealed dries and hardens, protecting the larva once more until it has grown too big on the inside once more. This happens about 5-7 times in the larval stage, depending on the species and the amount of food available. After about 10-14 days, the larva will affix itself the a stable structure to begin the metamorphosis, the process by which the larva of an insect completely transforms in appearance into the adult form of the species. This process can take 7-14 days depending on temperature, type of species, the amount of food eaten during the larval stage and humidity. In other words, a lot of varying factors. When the adult ladybug emerges from the pupa, it is in a very vulnerable state. The ladybug’s body is very soft and wet as the new exoskeleton still must dry and harden. The colors and spots look dull, but once it is dry the colors are bright and the ladybug will present the world with its new life. You can even watch the entire life cycle with a ladybug Rearing kit where you get to watch the baby ladybug larvae grow and turn into adult ladybugs.
11. Do ladybugs build their own home?
A. No. Ladybugs reside where insect pest populations are high. Such as in crop fields, gardens, and in the canopies of trees.
12. How do ladybugs protect themselves?
A. Nature has uniquely designed a warning system of colors. Red, yellow and black are colors that warn predators that the insect they are about to eat might not be a good lunch choice. The colors can warn of danger such as poisonous, bad taste, or the ability to defend itself against the predators. Colors can also camouflage and warn when there is nothing about the insect that is harmful. Ladybugs can also protect themselves by playing dead. By pulling their legs up “turtle-style”, and typically release a small amount of blood from their legs. (This is called reflex bleeding.) The bad smell and the apparent look of death usually deter predators from their small ladybug snack. After the threat of danger has passed, the ladybug will resume its normal activities.
13. Can I keep a ladybug as a temporary pet?
A. Keeping a ladybug as a pet to observe will be fun. You can house your ladybug in a bug box or terrarium. Keep the foliage moist, or place a damp paper towel inside so the ladybug can get a drink. You can feed your ladybug moistened raisins or other sweet, non-acidic fruits. This will help maintain their fat reserves until you are ready to release the ladybug in spring. You can even watch the entire life cycle with a ladybug Rearing kit where you get to watch the baby ladybug larvae grow and turn into adult ladybugs.
14. What is the yellow stuff coming from the ladybug?
Ladybugs can excrete some of their blood as a defense, which is mentioned above. It is yellow and smells bad. There is that “color” defense again and it does smell quite unpleasant.
15. How did the ladybug get its name?
A. In Europe, during the Middle Ages, insects were destroying the crops, so the Catholic farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon the Ladybugs came, ate the plant-destroying pests and saved the crops! The farmers began calling the ladybugs “The Beetles of Our Lady”, and they eventually became known as “Lady Beetles”! The red wings represented the Virgin’s cloak and the black spots represented her joys and sorrows. They didn’t differentiate between males and females.
16. Are all ladybugs girls?
A. No. There are boy ladybugs and girl ladybugs. It’s almost impossible for the average person to tell them apart. But here are some clue that might help. First, females are usually larger than males. Second, if you observe one ladybug riding atop another ladybug, they are in the process of mating. A male ladybug will grab the female’s elytra (hard wings) and holds on tight. There are photos on the Ladybugs Mating Page to help you. An entomologist (bug scientist) can see the difference between males and females under a microscope.
17. What are boy ladybugs called?
A. Boy ladybugs are called ladybugs, too.
18. Can two different species mate to produce a new species?
A. Ladybugs are typically “species specific”. That means that they can only reproduce successfully with members of their same species. The male and female reproduction parts are termed “lock and key” which means that the male’s aedeagus (insect penis) will only “fit” with the female of his same species. New species evolves over time through a process called evolution. It can also occur more rapidly through genetic mutations that have continued to appear in successive generations.
19. What are ladybug babies called?
A. Ladybug babies are the larva. They look like little black and orange alligators with small spikes. You can see a picture on the Pictures of Ladybugs and Larva page.
20. Are there different kinds of ladybugs?
A. Yes. There are hundreds of different kinds all over the world. There are about 500 different kinds in the United States and nearly 5000 world wide. They come in all different colors, too. Reds, yellows, orange, gray, black, brown and even pink.
21. What animals and insects prey upon the ladybug?
A. There are lots of animals and insects that prey upon ladybugs. Some insect-eating birds, like martins, swallows, swifts and crows. Insect-eating insects prey on ladybugs like dragonflies, assassin bugs, parasitic wasps, and ants. Other predators include tree frogs, anoles, parasites, fungus and mites. Ladybugs certainly have their shares of problems!
22. At the beginning of September, thousands of ladybugs were found in Lake Michigan. Why were they in and around the lake?
A. Periodically, all kinds of different insects can be found flowing in and around Lake Michigan. Although, during the early part of this month, the Lake Michigan area experienced some strong weather patterns. Insects can be carried on strong air currents created by storms, only to be “dropped off” somewhere else.
23. Do the spots tell you how old they are?
A. No. Different ladybugs have different numbers of spots. Some have no spots while some have as many as twenty four. Ladybugs generally complete their life cycle within one year. The spots are with them all their life. They don’t get more spots as they get older, nor do they lose spots.
24. Does the number of spots tell you what kind of ladybug it is?
A. Yes and No. An entomologist can use the spots as a guide in determining what kind of ladybug it is, but it is not the only piece of information gathered. For an average person the spots can greatly help, but the shape and coloration are going to be just as important. Some different types of ladybugs may have the same number of spots.
25. What are the life cycle stages of a ladybug?
A. Egg, Larva, Pupa, and Adult. The first three stages vary from 7-21 days each depending on the weather, and food supplies. The adult stage lasts between 3-9 months depending on weather, length of hibernation, food supplies and, of course, predators.
26. Why are ladybugs considered a “beneficial” insect?
A. Ladybugs feed on aphids and other soft bodied insects that feed on plants. The ladybug feeds on these pests as the adult ladybug and as the larva. One ladybug can eat as many as 50 aphids a day. Now, that’s a hungry lady! Visit the Ladybugs Helping Gardeners page for more info.
Alternatively, you could always have a go at making your own
How Long Can Ladybugs Live in Winter? and How Do They Survive?
Ladybugs use the winter to hibernate. They can survive in extreme cold temperature due to this ability. Often ladybugs can be found in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. They’ll shut down their bodily functions so as to survive the winter. This is especially useful since aphids and their own natural food source and scarce during this time. However, the colder the winter, the harder it is to survive. Find out more about What Ladybugs Do in Winter.
Ladybugs survive mostly for a year on average. However, they can go on to live longer lives as well. Their sustenance depends on a number of factors including availability of food, weather, species, temperature etc. If all these factors give the ladybug a fruitful outlook, then she can expect to live for 2 years, even up to 3 in rare cases.
In places of extreme cold, they’re likely to survive for lower durations since they’ll have to hibernate longer. But then again, they’ll still resume activities once spring comes. They show incredible resilience for survival and are also known to be great pets.
I kind of wish they lived longer. I mean they’re so lovely to have around, it just seems a shame that their lives are so short. Or are they?
They might seem like short lives to us, but to a Ladybug, it might seem to last for ages – a lifetime in fact, compared to us humans. I hope that is the case.
I also hope you’ve enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it from ladybugplanet.com if you did.
Also, don’t forget to take a look at my Ladybug Gifts and Resources page for some great little Ladybug Protection gifts and free education worksheets to use in your education establishment or home school project.
Is there a difference between lady beetles and ladybugs? Ladybugs are actually a more common name than lady beetles. However, they refer to the same insects. The name lady beetles came from the original name “Beetles of the Lady” referring to Virgin Mary.
However, though these are called bugs, they are originally beetles of the Coleoptera order. The Coleoptera are different from other beetle orders since they undergo complete metamorphosis and develop covers for their wings.
Ladybird Beetle Identification Key
A diagnostic guide to coccinellids in agricultural fields in Southeastern Minnesota
By Nancy A. Schellhorn
Photos by Nancy Schellhorn and Jason Harmon
Text by Nancy Schellhorn
This guide provides a pictoral key for seven species of ladybird beetles (Coccinellidae) commonly found in agricultural fields and natural habitats in south and southeast Minnesota, U.S.A. This key may not be valid in any other location.
We have found that our color photo key is easier to use than illustrations, and for most of the species listed, photos of each instar are provided.
Coleomegilla maculata (De Geer), adult, larvae
What stage is your ladybird beetle?
Adult coccinellids are fairly easy to identify (Gordon 1985), but the larvae and pupae are more difficult. In our key the larvae are identified by dorsal color pattern, a character that is widely recognized as appropriate and sufficient for identifying species in the subfamily Coccinellinae (Gordon and Vandenberg 1991, NAS personal experience), the subfamily of all species presented here. Keys by Rees et al (1994) and Gordon and Vandenberg (1991) illustrate late instar larvae from 46 genera and 6 adult species, respectively (also see Rees et al. 1994 for a more comprehensive list). The keys by Gordon (1985) and Gordon and Vandenberg (1991) are the most comprehensive keys for identifying adult coccinellids, both native and introduced.
For further information please contact:
Nancy A. Schellhorn, Research Scientist
120 Meiers Road
Indooroopilly, QLD 4068
E-mail: [email protected]
David Andow, Professor
Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
219 Hodson Hall
1980 Folwell Ave
St. Paul, MN 55108
E-mail: [email protected]
Ladybugs, also called lady beetles or ladybird beetles, are a very beneficial group. They are natural enemies of many insects, especially aphids and other sap feeders. A single lady beetle may eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Many species of lady beetles are present in Kentucky and they are common in most habitats.
Adult lady beetles have very characteristic convex, hemispherical to oval shaped bodies that can be yellow, pink, orange, red, or black, and usually are marked with distinct spots. This is a type of warning coloration to discourage other animals that may try to eat them. Like many other brightly-colored insects, they are protected by an odorous, noxious fluid that seeps out of their joints when the insects are disturbed. The bright body coloration helps some predators to remember the encounter and avoid attacking insects with similar markings.
Figure 1. Lady beetle larva feeding on aphids
Figure 2. Cluster of lady beetle eggs
Adult females usually lay clusters of eggs on plants close to aphid, scale, or mealybug colonies. The alligator-like larvae are also predators. They are spiny and black with bright spots. Although they look dangerous, lady beetle larvae are quite harmless to humans. After feeding on insect prey for several weeks, the larva pupates on a leaf. Adults tend to move on once pests get scarce, while the larvae remain and search for more prey.
Some lady beetle species have several generations each year while others have only one. During the summer months, all stages often can be found at the same time. Adults of some species spend the winter clustered together in large groups under leaf litter, rocks, or other debris.
Common Kentucky Lady Beetles
While there are many species of lady beetles in Kentucky, a few are very common in agricultural fields, home gardens and landscapes, and wooded areas. These include: Coleomegilla maculata, sometimes called the pink spotted lady beetle has a medium-sized, oblong pink to red body marked with black spots. Both adults and larvae are important aphid predators but also eat mites, insect eggs, and small larvae. Unlike most lady beetles, plant pollen may make up to 50% of the diet.
Figure 3. Coleomegilla maculata is a pink lady beetle and is very common.
Harmonia axyridis, the Asian lady beetle, a large orange lady beetle that may or may not have spots. The segment over the head is white with a black ‘M’. In the fall, aggregations of Asian lady beetle find their way into homes. These beetles are a nuisance and can ruin rugs and other furniture with their secretions. Fortunately, they do not breed or feed inside the home. For complete information on managing Asian lady beetle problems in the home, See ENTFACT-416, “Asian Lady Beetle Infestation of Structures.”
Figure 4. Asian lady beetle is a beneficial insect in the field and nuisance pest in homes.
Hippodamia convergens, the convergent lady beetle, a medium sized orange and black species that is commonly sold for biological control of aphids.
Figure 5. Convergent lady beetle and larva in common and can be purchased commercially.
Coccinella septempunctata, sevenspotted lady beetle, sometimes called ‘C-7′, is a medium-sized, orange beetle with seven black spots. It is a European species that was introduced into the US to aid in managing some aphid pests.
Figure 6. Seven-spotted lady beetle is common on many crops.
Plant Feeding Lady Beetles?
There two species of lady beetles in Kentucky that feed on plants rather than insects. They are the Mexican bean beetle and the squash beetle. Both are very easy to recognize. Mexican bean beetle adults, which feed on garden beans and occasionally soybeans, have orange bodies with eight black spots on each wing cover, Squash beetles, which attack squash, pumpkin, and cantaloupe, have only seven spots. The larvae are also very distinctive and shouldn’t be mistaken for predaceous larvae, because they have large forked spines across their yellowish orange bodies.
Conserving Lady Beetles
Lady beetles can play an important role in managing some insect pests in crops and landscapes. Here are some things that you can do to maximize their impact.
- Learn to recognize the different stages of these beneficial insects.
- Make insecticide applications only when necessary and use selective insecticides or limited treatments to avoid killing lady beetles.Add plants that can provide pollen and nectar for lady beetles. These are important components of the diets of some species.
CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.
Of course, ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE!
Photos: Ric Bessin, University of Kentucky Entomology
Lady beetles, often called ladybugs or ladybirds, are some of the most commonly known beneficial insects. In fact, the Convergent Lady Beetle is the official state insect of Ohio! Both adults and larvae feed on soft-bodied insects like aphids. There are many species of lady beetles found in Ohio, but the most common ones are listed in the tables below. It is important to remember that when identifying a lady beetle, the number or shape of the spots may vary slightly between individuals of the same species. Be sure to also focus on the patterning of the area just behind the head (the pronotum), as this is typically more consistent within a species.
Common Lady Beetles of Ohio: Native Species
| Convergent Lady Beetle
© Scott Peden
| Spotted (or Pink) Lady Beetle
© Jon Rapp
| Parenthesis Lady Beetle
© Tom Murray
| Polished Lady Beetle
© Peter Cristofono
Common Lady Beetles of Ohio: Exotic Species
| Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle
© Cheryl Moorehead
| Seven-spotted Lady Beetle
© Rich Kelly
| Fourteen-spotted Lady Beetle
© Tom Murray
| Variegated Lady Beetle
© Tom Murray
Adult lady beetles are dome-shaped, circular or oval, and shiny with short legs and antennae. Wing covers are dark, reddish-orange to pale yellow, with or without black spots or irregular marks, while others are solid black or black with red spots. The head is concealed from above and they range in size from 1/16 to 3/8 inch long. Larvae are elongate, somewhat flattened, and covered with minute tubercles or spines. Most larvae have large, sickle-shaped mandibles (jaws) and resemble tiny, black, six-legged alligators with orange spots. Small, yellow, football-shaped eggs are laid upright in clusters of 10 to 50 on undersides of leaves.
Life Cycle and Habits
The length of the life cycle varies depending upon temperature, humidity and food supply. Usually the life cycle from egg to adult requires about three to four weeks, or up to six weeks during cooler spring months. In the spring, overwintering adults find food, then lay from 50 to 300 eggs in her lifetime, typically in aphid colonies. Eggs hatch in three to five days, and larvae feed on aphids or other insects for two to three weeks, then pupate. Adults emerge in seven to ten days. There may be five to six generations per year. In the autumn, adults hibernate, sometimes in large numbers, in plant refuse or crevices.
Lady beetles, both adults and larvae, are known primarily as predators of aphids, but they prey also on many other pests such as soft-scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites and eggs of the Colorado Potato Beetle and European Corn Borer. A few species even feed on plant and pollen mildews. One larva will eat about 400 medium-size aphids during its development to the pupal stage. An adult will eat about 300 medium-size aphids before it lays eggs. About three to ten aphids are eaten for each egg the beetle lays. More than 5,000 aphids may be eaten by a single adult in its lifetime. The lady beetle’s huge appetite and reproductive capacity often allow it to rapidly wipe out its prey.
During the autumn, lady beetles crawl to overwintering sites. Some species aggregate to overwinter. For these, a few to several hundred will gather to protect themselves from cold winter temperatures. The aggregation site may be located at the base of a tree, along a fence row, under a fallen tree, under a rock, or in your house!
Sometimes lady beetles become a nuisance when congregating in and around homes. This is especially true for the exotic Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis (for more information, see OSU Extension’s fact sheet specifically about this species). They tend to congregate in large numbers on the sunny side of the house. Caulk and seal spaces and gaps to prevent them from coming inside. Physically remove lady beetles found indoors. Since lady beetles are beneficial and are not harmful to humans, insecticide treatment is not suggested.
If prey is plentiful, the lady beetles will stay, lay eggs and become effective aphid predators, especially in greenhouses. However, in some cases, most of the beetles will leave the area regardless of the availability of food. There are several companies that have lady beetles for biological control available for purchase, but you can encourage locally occurring populations by providing flowering plant resources and overwintering sites.
For more information, contact: Dr. Mary Gardiner, Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University OARDC, Wooster, OH 44691, [email protected]
This fact sheet is a revision of the fact sheet, “Lady Beetles,” originally written by William F. Lyon.
Ladybugs are Everywhere!
Ladybug Infestation. They can infest your house in the winter
instead of finding a home outside.
Photo by Drobincorvette
Hippodamia convergent ladybugs congregate together in the fall to hibernate. These ladybugs can be found most often in the upper elevations of the Sierra Nevadas, Rocky, Appalachian, Blue Ridge Mountains and other mountainous areas throughout the United States and Canada.
This ladybug prefers to over winter around rock out croppings, under forest debris, in tall grassy areas and under tree bark.
‘Tis the season! Ladybugs are looking for a place to hibernate. They are attracted to light colored homes, usually older homes and they are attracted to heat that the homes reflect. Once ladybugs have penetrated the home though, they are hard to get rid of.
Ladybugs release pheromones, it is sort of like “perfume” to attract other ladybugs. They use pheromones as a means of communication during mating and hibernation. Insect pheromones are very powerful. They can be detected by others up to a 1/4 mile away. This helps ladybugs find each other and it lets future generations know of a good place to “camp out” for the winter. The pheromones don’t go away easily. The chemical “scent” can remain year after year, and not only on the outside of a structure, but also within the walls, where ladybugs tend to hide before emerging into your home. So, scrubbing pheromones off a house is a BIG task, if not impossible.
The yellow stuff you might see from time to time is their blood (hemolymph). It, too, contains pheromones and it stains. You can see the yellow blood when you hold a ladybug and it gets scared. This is a normal reaction to stressful situations called reflex bleeding. Releasing some of its blood is one way the ladybug can protect itself. The blood smells bad and signals to a predator that this ladybug is not a good lunch choice.
To prevent ladybugs from getting in, make sure all cracks around windows, doors, clap boards, pipes, ect. are sealed up. Some extermination companies offer this service, sometimes called inclusion. This, too, is no small project, and may cost a small fortune, but it’s worth it. Especially if you don’t like ladybugs joining you for dinner.
Amazon Asian Lady Beetle Killer P F Harris Mfg CO amazon.com $11.99
As far as bugs go, ladybugs have a pretty sterling reputation. Seen as a sign of good luck, and often appearing in children’s books and cartoons, these red- and black-spotted insects have plenty of great qualities: They prey on pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealy bugs that would otherwise destroy your plants and gardens.
But, there’s actually a bad kind of ladybug out there—ones that can bite and be aggressive, are harmful to dogs, invade your home, and leave behind a foul-smelling yellowish secretion that can stain walls and furniture. They’re called Asian Lady Beetles and were first introduced to North America in 1916 to combat aphids—but now, they’re even more of a problem because they have overtaken the native species, and our homes.
While Asian Lady Beetles also prey on pests that harm our gardens, their cons far outweigh the pros. Here’s exactly how to tell if you’re dealing with a good kind of ladybug or a bad kind of ladybug, and what to do about it.
How Can I Tell The Difference Between Native Ladybugs and Asian Lady Beetles?
Asian Lady Beetles look almost identical to native ladybugs when it comes to color, but there’s one distinctive marking that will make it easy to spot the difference between the two. On the black section just behind the bug’s head you’ll notice a white “M”-shaped marking—that’s the telltale sign you’re dealing with an Asian Lady Beetle, according to The Spruce.
See the M? On normal ladybugs, that entire section is black. BobGrifGetty Images
How Do I Get Rid of Asian Lady Beetles?
Keep them outside! Make sure all of your window and door screens are in good shape, and double-check areas like chimneys, siding, vents, utility wires, and anywhere else you think insects could come into your home. If they do end up getting inside, Orkin recommends vacuuming them up (emptying the bag immediately afterward), or sweeping them up in a dustpan and putting them back outside.
These bugs quickly multiply, so if you notice a few in your home, make sure to act fast. Call your local pest control company, because it won’t be long before you’ve got a full-blown invasion.
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I’ve also written about this is my article on the Ladybug Life Cycle, so if you want more information beyond just mating, then please head over there. However, this is a question often asked, so I thought I’d answer it separately. After all, Ladybugs are important to us!
When Do Ladybugs Mate? Typically during May, but Ladybugs can mate numerous times between Spring and into early Summer. For the Northern Hemisphere, that’s roughly May – July and in the Southern Hemisphere from September to end of November. This is variable depending on weather conditions and temperatures.
It’s not an unusual case for Ladybird Beetles, they copulate and reproduce in much the same way as many beetles and insects, but there are one or two unusual points to mention let’s explore it further.
How Long is a Ladybugs Breeding Season?
The Ladybug Breeding Season begins from around the start of spring and can last up to around two months. From the moment the Ladybird Beetles emerge from their Winter Hibernation, they will look to bolster their food stores and then within a month, reproduction will be on their minds.
The Ladybug Mating Ritual
Once Ladybugs emerge from their Winter hideout, and assuming they’ve survived winter. Then this usually means spring is on it’s way. With that in mind, once fed, they may begin to look for a mate.
The exact courting ritual of Ladybugs is unknown as it has not been extensively researched. If you do find any comprehensive research do let me know. So this leaves us to believe it’s minimal in respect of finding a partner.
In the absence of known research, I’d recommend falling back on what we do know and interpret the rest from what’s commonly known for this kind of process in insects and other animals.
The female Ladybug tends to be slightly larger than the Male Ladybug. But the varieties of ladybugs can vary in size, so it’s not always obvious to know.
What we do know is that courting begins by both the male and the female releasing pheromones, these scents can be picked up from a long way off and are what attract the two together.
It’s likely these pheromones provide information about species type, fertility strength in the female, and the overall genetic strength of the male etc – to use Darwins theory of natural selection. Certainly enough information to enable both parties to determine if the other is a suitable match.
The Male will climb onto the back of the Ladybug, gripping her elytra with his front legs, whilst inserting his ‘aedeagus’ (insect genitals) into her. The mating process, known as copulating, can continue for up to two hours. During this process, the female is still able to move around whilst mating is in process.
Mating Across Species
It’s not uncommon for Ladybugs to have mated with a different species of Ladybug as part of the evolutionary process. However, they have to be able to ‘fit’ together. Most Lady beetles will seek out and mate with their own species of ladybug to maintain their own distinct species type and also because these are the ones they can mate with most successfully.
Ladybugs have what’s known as a ‘lock and key’ system, which means the genitalia, or the male-insect-penis, scientifically called the ‘aedeagus’ fits best with the female of the same variety/species.
Did You Know…
There are 5000+ species of Ladybug, 500 of those can be found in the USA.
Show me more Amazing Ladybug Facts
How To Tell If a Ladybug Is Pregnant
You can’t, it’s really that simple. At least not to the casual observer. An Entomologist with a microscope are really what would be required to tell if a Ladybug is pregnant or not. In fact most of the time the female is merely carrying the male sperm rather than using it to produce eggs.
How Long Before Female Ladybugs Lay Eggs
A female can carry the male sperm for around 2-3 months before deciding to use it to fertilize her eggs. This enables her to find the best spot for laying her eggs, under the best cover, with the best environment for available food, and to give them the best chance of survival.
When Do Ladybugs Lay Eggs?
Most Ladybugs will lay eggs in during Late Spring to early Summer when food sources are at their highest level. All laying also depends largely on the right weather conditions and temperatures.
As females can temporarily store male eggs for 2-3 months, this process is a continual one throughout late spring and summer. Meaning you’re likely to find eggs throughout this period.
Where Do Ladybugs Prefer to Lay Eggs?
There are two main factors affecting where Ladybugs lay their eggs. The first being the availability of food. The more abundant the food (mostly near aphids colonies), the greater the chance you will find Ladybird Beetle eggs, as even Ladybug Larvae eat Aphids and similar prey to adults.
The second factor is the shelter in which the eggs are laid. The female will want her eggs to survive away from predators, so you will often find them on the underside of leaves and in other shaded areas away from plain view.
ladybug eggs are commonly laid on the underside of leaves
How Many Eggs Do Ladybugs Lay?
Female Ladybugs usually lay eggs in clusters to best ensure the survival of at least one or two. They have been seen in clusters of up to 50 before, but this is very rare.
They produce small yellow eggs that are sticky and will glue to surfaces such as the underside of leaves. Once the Larva hatches, it may eat the egg casing left behind, possibly even the other none fertile eggs of laid by the female – known as Trophy Eggs.
Some growth takes place whilst in the female, but they accelerate really quickly in growth once laid. It takes around 4-10 days for the larva to hatch from it’s eggs. A very short time indeed.
Did You Know…
Younger Ladybugs Pause their growth whilst hibernating in Winter!
See lots more Ladybug Facts
In her lifetime, a Ladybug can lay as many as 1000 eggs. Not all will hatch, some may be trophy eggs left as a quick snack for the larvae, some will be eaten by prey. But a good portion will survive.
Do Ladybugs Watch Over Their Eggs?
Ladybugs do not watch over their eggs, in fact, they do not hang around at all. They try to provide the newly laid eggs with the best start in life by laying them near an abundant food source and as far out the way of danger as possible. Beyond that, it’s left to chance that they’re not eaten, and up to the larvae to survive once they’ve hatched.
What Eats Ladybug Eggs?
Most predators that would eat ladybugs would also eat Ladybug eggs, and even Ladybug Larvae. This is why Ladybugs try to lay their eggs out the way of predators and near a food source so the Larva do not need to travel far to get food, the more food they eat in as shorter time as possible, the bigger and stronger they can grow to enable them to move on to the next stage.
I hope this has provided more insight into the mating rituals and egg laying activities of the Ladybug, be sure to check out my other articles and if I’ve missed anything, or if you would like me to cover any Ladybug subjects not already discussed then I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Also, for those Ladybug lovers out there like me, you can find lots of stylish gorgeous and luck related Ladybug gifts and activities in my resource pages. I’ve poured all my best Ladybug knowledge and best purchases over the years into the list so I hope it helps you find something special or something educational for the kids.
Speaking of which, head over to my resources page for Ladybug Breeding Kits. It’s a great way to teach kids and my guide provides more information than the info you get with the kits to make it even more exciting for them!
What Happens to Male Ladybugs After Mating? Not much, once mating has finished the male plays no further part in the process or in deciding where eggs are placed, or even when. The female makes all the decisions from that point on, the Male Ladybug will spend the remainder of their time hunting and trying to mate with more female Ladybugs!
You know it’s springtime when animals start coming out of hibernation. That includes ladybugs that crawl out from their cozy winter hiding places.
As you pointed out, ladybugs are actually a kind of beetle called the ladybird beetle. They go through a life cycle of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
When these young larvae hatch from their yellowish eggs, they don’t look like worms or even beetles.
They look more like tiny alligators with six legs and tiny spikes on their backs, said my friend Laura Lavine. She’s a scientist at Washington State University who studies insects and was happy to help out with your questions.
In the summer, these young alligator-looking larvae can be found searching for their favorite food. They feast on tiny insects called aphids that live on plants.
Young larvae are hungry predators. In fact, ladybird beetle larvae will even eat each other, spikes and all, if they get hungry enough. But more often, the larvae will feast on aphids.
These larvae shed their outer skeleton throughout this stage of life. They’ll use some of this shedding to attach themselves to a plant or sometimes the side of a building for their third stage of life. In this stage, they’re called a pupa and they build a cocoon to go through a transformation.
You may have heard about how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly. A caterpillar is also a kind of larva. It changes into an adult in a process we call metamorphosis. Ladybird beetle larvae go through metamorphosis to become adults, too.
After spending about two weeks inside their cocoon, or sometimes less, the adult beetle comes out into the world. Adult beetles will live for around three years or so. During that time, they will lay eggs and create several new generations. So the beetles you see in a group could be different ages.
When fall rolls around, adult beetles leave their feeding sites in yards, fields, and forests to hide out for the winter. They need a place where they can huddle together with hundreds or thousands of other beetles. This helps them stay protected from weather and keep from freezing.
They’ll find places in cracks, crevices, tree bark, and even your house or roof to spend the winter. On the Palouse where we live, we can find them in cracks of pine trees or logs. I might just have to take my magnifying glass outside and see if I can spot some ladybugs waking up from their hibernation.
Sometimes they land right on you and start crawling. But other times they can really zip around. Believe it or not, scientists have clocked ladybird beetles flying at 37 m.p.h.
Have you seen ladybugs or other insects in your neighborhood? Were they nesting together? Have you ever spotted a ladybird beetle larva? Take a look in your neighborhood and tell me about it at [email protected]
It’s the Ask Dr. Universe Ladybug Lookout!
Keep an eye out for ladybird beetles in your neighborhood. We might just feature what you discover!
ABOUT ASK DR. UNIVERSE
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By BILL O’NEILL
MALE ladybirds are pretty stupid. They can spend up to four hours mating with a dead female before realising something is wrong. And if these cold-blooded creatures get caught in the act when the Sun goes down, the falling temperatures may leave them immobilised till morning. Such tales about one of the world’s most cherished insects might scandalise ladybird lovers. Yet they come from an ardent admirer who should know. Michael Majerus, a naturalist at the University of Cambridge, is the founder and coordinator of the Cambridge Ladybird Survey, an extraordinary study of the activities of ladybirds in Britain.
The survey started in 1984 as a casual request to amateur entomologists for more information on ladybirds to assist his research on sexual selection. From that, says Majerus, it developed “more by luck than judgment” into one of the most exhaustive nature-watch campaigns ever, drawing in a diverse network of part-time ladybird spotters. Participants ranged from professional entomologists to primary schoolchildren, who all recorded their observations and sent them to Majerus and his small team of researchers and collators in the university’s genetics department.
As the survey’s network of recorders quickly grew to an estimated 30 000 people, so the information poured in. “There’s so much data you can’t believe it,” says Majerus. And much is valuable scientific information too, he insists. On the strength of the survey’s results, Majerus and his colleagues have produced several academic papers, which are all “quite widely cited”, and there are more in the pipeline, he adds.
The Cambridge survey soon overshadowed Britain’s official project, the Coccinellidae Distribution Mapping Scheme, which had been running since …
How do we know the male from the female?
It’s almost impossible for the average person to tell them apart. But here are some clues that might help. First, females are usually larger than males. Second, if you observe one ladybug riding atop another ladybug, they are in the process of mating. A male ladybug will grab the female’s elytra (hard wings) and holds on tight so the one at the top is the male. An entomologist (bug scientist) can see the difference between males and females under a microscope. Below are pictures taken with a microscope in a process called electron microscopy.
- Have a notch on the last sternite, shown by the yellow number 6.
- They have lots of setae (“hair-like” structures) on the last segment, shown by yellow number 6 .
- And, they have large flexor bands between the sternites, shown by the arrows above number 3.
Females, in general
- Do not have a notch on the las
- Do not have lots of setae, just a little.
- Do not have large flexor bands.
After mating, the ladybugs will deposit eggs like these on leaves.
Photo by Gilles San Martin
Ladybug Facts, Identification, and Control in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut
Scientific Order: Coleoptera (all Beetles)
Scientific Family: Coccinellidae
The convergent lady beetle (hippodamia convergens)
The seven-spotted ladybug (coccinella septempunctata)
Size: Varies based on specific species, but most ladybugs measure between 1 and 10 millimeters.
Color: Ladybugs are famous for the vibrant red or orange color of their wing sheaths. Different species of ladybug could be red, orange, tan, or even yellow.
Signs of Infestation
In the winter, ladybugs may enter a building in large numbers to keep warm. Check damp, dark areas of your building in particular. Overwintering ladybugs may be attracted to basements, crawl spaces, attics, or closets.
When ladybugs congregate, they give off pheromones that attract more ladybugs. Ladybugs tend to congregate on light-colored surfaces that reflect sunlight. They’re particularly common in spring and fall.
Treatment and Prevention
Find areas where ladybugs congregate and wash them with soapy water or bleach to wash away the pheromone scent. Consider vacuuming up swarms of ladybugs to remove them, and throw the bag away when you’re finished.
Ladybugs enter buildings through small cracks and crevices. Inspect your building for vulnerabilities around the baseboard, frames, utility lines, foundation, and vents. Seal up any cracks and crevices you find with caulk.
Diet and Behavior
Ladybugs are carnivorous and primarily prey on aphids. Some species also feed on scale insects, mealybugs, spider mites, and other small or developing pests. Ladybugs are considered beneficial insects because they hunt crop-destroying pests.
In order to find aphids, ladybugs typically spend most of their time flying around the plant life aphids prey on. Ladybugs are also very temperature-sensitive, so when they aren’t hunting, they seek out sun-reflecting, warm surfaces where they can congregate.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
Ladybugs reproduce sexually. During mating season, ladybugs secrete pheromones to attract partners. After fertilization, female ladybugs may wait several months before laying eggs. A single female ladybug can lay hundreds of eggs at once.
Ladybugs go through four life cycle stages: egg, larvae, pupae, and adult. A single female ladybug can lay hundreds of eggs at once. Ladybugs grow faster in warm environments where food is abundant. After reaching adulthood, most ladybugs naturally live for about one more year.
Most ladybugs have black dots on their wing sheaths. The number, size, and arrangement of dots varies from species to species–there are two-spotted, seven-spotted, and nine-spotted species.
Most ladybugs have white markings on this mostly black section of their wing sheath, but the asian lady beetles’ are shaped differently and tend to be larger.
Despite their name, ladybugs are actually considered beetles. They have all the defining characteristics of all species in the beetle family, including the elytra wing covers.
National Geographic Ladybug profile
Cornell University Insect Diagnostic Laboratory Lady Beetles fact sheet
Integrated Taxonomic Information System Ladybug entry
The page cannot be found
The Ladybug has something of a strange life cycle and one that surprises many people. From egg to fully grown ladybug, join us on a journey of a lifetime – literally!
The ladybug will always try and mate as close to a colony of aphids as possible. The ladybug loves aphids and will eat many of them each day.
When its larvae hatch they will then have a ready made food source upon which to feast. When the eggs are laid they are only about a millimeter in length and the numbers can range from a few right up to several hundred, depending on the conditions.
The male has an insect penis which is called an aedeagus. A “lock and key” fit means that if he gets it wrong and tries to mate with another species of ladybug, he will not get to third base! Fertilization, as you can see, is internal, which surprises many people. It doesn’t exactly start with a kiss, but with a little Barry White in the background this could almost be classed as romantic! Almost, but not quite!
Harmonia axyridis lays its eggs. Many people believe that the ladybug will lay the same amount of eggs each time it mates. This would be true if conditions were always at a constant: what happens is that when conditions are harsh, the ladybug will lay many eggs that are infertile. Only laying a few eggs that will hatch is not just to maximize the chances of survival of those that are fertile, however.
Above you can see Harmonia quadripunctata laying her eggs. The infertile eggs will actually provide sustenance for the lucky ones who survive through to hatching before they start roaming for live prey. If times are harsh, however, this particular species will gladly feast on the eggs of other ladybugs and different species of insects.
This particular set of eggs belongs to the species Harmonia axyridis and it is devouring the eggs of Harmonia sp. Cannibalism? Not quite. This is known as intraguild predation.
Harmonia axyridis (above) is also known as the Harlequin Ladybug or Asian Lady Beetle. It was first introduced to North America and Europe by man in the early twentieth century as a way of controlling scale insects and aphids, which it devours readily and in huge numbers. In some parts of America it is also known as the Halloween Lady Beetle because it is found in many homes in the month of October. This is because it likes the warmth of human habitation and so is drawn their for its winter hibernation period (yes, Ladybugs hibernate!).
Hatching takes place after three to five days, which is pretty quick, even for an insect the size of a ladybug! Six legged larvae about one eighth of an inch emerge and start devouring as many aphids as they can – they have quite a metamorphosis to undergo before they are adult and they need as much food as they can get! If the conditions are right, then the larvae will grow very quickly. The whole process from egg to adult can take as little as twenty four days.
The ladybug larva goes through several stages and is best described as looking something like an insect equivalent of a crocodile, only black and with (occasionally) orange markers. The larvae eat about twenty five aphids (or equivalent!) a day. That’s nothing to what the adult can get through – roughly about fifty. This is why many ladybugs are popular with farmers and gardeners. In fact their name comes from a time in the Middle Ages when people thought that they were sent as a gift from the Virgin Mary to help with controlling pests. It is not, as many people believe, a protogynous hermaphrodite. This is when an animal begins its life as a female. So, if you thought they were so named because the vast majority (or as some believe, all of them!) were female, then put that thought out of your mind!
Many people assume that the ladybug – adult and larva alike – have only one food source, that is the aphid. Again, this is not true. They will eat scale insects (such as the cochineal). They will also make a tasty meal out of any mealybugs they come across (mealybugs are unarmored so make an easy and tasty meal!). They will also eat mites, which to our eyes are pretty much invisible, but to a ladybug will make the equivalent of an in-between meal snack!
Does the (some would say poor and unfortunate) aphid have any protection? Look at the mandibles on the ladybug above and answer that question for yourself. The only defense it has is gravity! Aphids will simply let themselves fall off the leaf if they can, and plummet to the ground, in order to escape being on the day’s menu. Oh – and don’t forget intraguild predation.
If there isn’t much respect between the species then there is just as little between members of the same species! Here, a Harlequin ladybug makes a meal out of one of tits own in a US garden. The Harlequin is becoming such a nuisance in some places – and a threat to local biodiversity because of its size and voracity – that ways of getting rid of the species from Europe and the US are being looked in to. This may involve the introduction of its natural parasites from Asia. Let us hope that the home grown species are immune!
The ladybug goes through four larval stages, each time going through the process of exuviation, where it casts of its skin which it has outgrown.
When the larva has grown to its full size it will then attach itself to the stem of a plant. It splits along its backside and exposes the pupa underneath. This sounds like something out of one of the “Alien” films and it really doesn’t take long to figure out that they didn’t get those ideas straight out of their imagination! The pupa, though, is wrapped up in this final stage of its metamorphosis and so is safe from the elements – but not from predators. It is at this stage it is at its most vulnerable. If it approached close to its hatching time by a possible predator it will shake itself dementedly to try and warn off the unwelcome visitor! This last stage takes just a few days and then the adult ladybug is ready to emerge.
Like any newly hatched insect, the ladybug must take some time to ‘dry out’. When it emerges it is completely soft and its exoskeleton and elytra (see below) must harden. This is made of chitin, which is a protein much like the one that creates our fingernails. For the first twenty four hours or so the ladybug will have no spots. Then it will go and find its first meal. Recently, four ladybugs and a whole heap of aphids were sent up in to space to try and ascertain how the aphid would try and escape from its enemy without the assistance of gravity. With some time to while away, the astronauts (on a 1999 mission) gave the four bugs names: John, Paul, George and Ringo. The result of the experiment? Ladybugs do very well in space, aphids don’t! Quel surprise!
Adult ladybugs come in a variety of colors and these are no accident. In nature there are colors that warn off potential predators. The main colors that the five thousand (or so) species of ladybugs have are red, black and yellow. Unsurprisingly, these are exactly the colors that tell would be diners that this dinner is not going to taste very pleasant! Ladybugs also have one other trick up their sleeve. They ‘play dead’. They pull their six legs up so they cannot be seen and do a ‘reflex bleed’. This is when they excrete a little amount of their ‘blood’ (which is yellow and smells horrible to predators). Anyone reading this that could once have been classified under the genus “boy” and who had a fascination with insects will recognize this little trick of the ladybug!
The ladybug uses the part of its body which gives it its color for more than just protection from predators. The elytra (if you can’t remember that, then you can call them shards) on its back are actually a modified forewing. Instead of using it to fly, the ladybug uses it to protect its hind wings, which are positioned underneath. Although it can get battered over time, it usually ensures that the ladybug retains the power of flight for the duration of its life (which is usually anything up to nine months). In some species of bugs the elytra fuse with the hind wings – and so we have the thousands of varieties of insects that cannot fly!
This of course, is not the case with the ladybug. It is one of the most popular insects on the planet (certainly among children) and has found itself at the center of many a myth and legend – as well as the occasional nursery rhyme. As the next generation flies off to feed and mate, perhaps it is appropriate to end with the most famous (in the English language at least). We will leave it intact, with its original UK English name – “ladybird”.
“Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home Your house is on fire and your children are gone All except one, and that’s Little Anne For she has crept under the warming pan.”