Ladybug Beetles
Ladybugs are beetles. Adults ladybugs (Hippodamia convergens) over winter in leaf litter and protected sites like your garage or garden shed. These adults wake up and become active mid-May feeding mostly on aphids. These adults mate and the females lay masses of eggs on leaves, usually near food for the developing young (on a plant currently infested with aphids). The eggs hatch five days later and the larvae feed voraciously (several hundred aphids are eaten per larvae). Then, when development is completed, they go through a "quiet" pupal stage: the outer surface hardens and they stick to leaves or twigs and after a week in the pupa a new adult emerges and starts the life cycle anew. At least three generations occur during one season, the adults of the last generation becoming dormant and over winter in leaf litter.  

This is a pupa of a ladybug on a bigtooth maple leaf.

This is an adult ladybug just emerged from the pupa (above).

A drawing of larval stage.

Diagram of Life-cycle

Schematic of external anatomy

What's for Dinner?
Facts or Infotainment?

Adult ladybugs are a primary predator of aphids, but also feed on small soft-bodied caterpillars, scales, spider mites, thrips and other beetle larvae. The ladybug larval form is the big eater though, plowing through several hundred aphids by the time it has completed its development.

Birds are the major predator of ladybugs.

In the Middle Ages, observent gardeners saw bright red spotted beetles eating aphids on their grape vines. The beetles ate so many aphids that the grape vines were able to produce great quanities of grapes for wine production. In appreciation the farmers dedicated the beetles to "Our Lady" and the name, Ladybug, has been its moniker ever since.

Ladybugs were introduced purposely by various state and federal agencies (starting in the late 1970's) as a biological control of plant pests (instead of using chemical sprays). You can buy ladybugs at garden stores in the springtime to help eat the bugs that are eating your garden!

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