Everyone in their life must have seen a tiny, colourful red with black polka-dots ladybird, mostly stationary on a leaf or walking on soil. It is known to be one of the most fascinating bugs to human beings. A ladybird beetle or a ladybug falls under the family Coccinellidae and the order Coleoptera. Ladybirds are a huge clan and comprise around 5,000 species all across the world. They are very small, round in shape and measure up to 8 mm in length. A ladybird does not always have red and black colours, but the colours and wings vary from species to species.
Let’s look at the life cycle of ladybirds to get a better understanding.
Life Cycle of Ladybird
1) The Egg – Stage 1 –
The female ladybird lays her eggs in the nook and corners of leaves so as to protect it from predators. The female ladybug looks around for a safe spot with ample food source for the larvae to feed on when it hatches. The female ladybug lays around 10 to 15 eggs on the leaf. But during early summer, a female ladybird can lay from 300 to 1000 eggs.
2) The Larval – Stage 2 –
The larvae form of ladybirds is a hungry lot. After the eggs hatch, the larvae go on an eating spree by feeding on mites or aphids. Aphids are sap-sucking insects and fall under the superfamily Aphididae and are the primary food item that larvae ladybirds consume. The larvae are in its first instar and it consumes up to 400 aphids in a day. Later, the larva grows large enough for its cuticle, soft shell and it breaks out of it. After the moulting, the larvae enter the second stage of instar. The larva undergoes 4 instars, after which it attaches itself to a surface or leaf and begins to pupate.
3) The Pupal – Stage 3 –
When the larvae ladybird enters the pupal stage it appears to be yellow or orange with black patterns. This stage lasts for about two weeks. Here, the ladybird is stationary as it is attached to a leaf and undergoes development. Ladybird has special cells called histoblasts. Histoblasts control the biochemical process that breaks down the larval body and transform it into an adult ladybird.
4) The Adult – Stage 4 –
During this stage, the newly emerged ladybirds have soft and brittle exoskeletons and are prone to predators until their skin becomes more rigid. Initially, they appear pale yellow but later on, the colours transform to red and black. The adult ladybird feeds on aphids and other smaller insects. They usually mate during the months of the spring season.
The name ladybird or ladybug originated from Britain during the Middle Ages. The bugs were named after Virgin Mary and called “Beetle of Our Lady”. The life cycle of a ladybird is very similar to the life cycle of a butterfly, as both of them undergo the same four stages of development.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Ladybird Life Cycle
Are ladybirds poisonous to human beings?
Ladybirds are not poisonous to human beings. But, ladybirds can be toxic to certain animals. These bugs leave behind a foul smell that prevents predators from eating them.
What is the yellow secretion coming from ladybird?
The ladybird secretes a certain amount of their blood as a defence mechanism. It appears yellow in colour and has a foul smell, which stops predators from approaching these beetles. This is how ladybirds protect themselves from potential predators.
How long do ladybirds live?
The average life expectancy of a ladybird is one year.