If you have learned a butterfly life cycle, then you might also able to tell a ladybug life cycle. Their life cycle is almost the same. It is not much different. There are four stages and it takes around three until four weeks to reach the final stages.
Weather conditions play a big role in the life cycle of a ladybug. It affects the time needed by a ladybug to move into the next stages. Here are the four stages of a ladybug life cycle that also known in some countries as the ladybird life cycle.
The first stage of the ladybug life cycle is the embryonic stage or egg. Ladybug eggs are tiny and have a pale yellow color. They have spindle-shaped and arranged in a cluster. The eggs will hatch around three until seven days, depend on the ambient temperature.
Usually, the female ladybug will lay the eggs in a small mass (around 10 to 50 eggs) on the undersides of leaves. It aims to make their babies safe from hungry predators.
Mostly the place that mother ladybug choose to lay their eggs is on a plant that near with a lot of aphids, their favorite food.
They want to make sure that their babies will have sufficient food once they hatch. A really good parents, isn’t it? A female ladybug can produce up to 1000 eggs during spring and early summer. The scientist also believes that ladybug laid both their fertile and infertile eggs.
This gives the newly hatched larvae extra food supply. They can eat the infertile eggs when the foods (aphids) are in limited supply. Next time when you go outside or in the park in spring or early summertime, have a look under some leaves and see if you can find out some of their eggs!
The second stage of the ladybug life cycle is the larval stage (larvae). Usually, people also called them as the baby ladybug. This stage will last around two to four weeks. After the eggs hatch, the larvae will come out and start seeking for food.
Baby ladybug looks like an “alligator” in the tiny version. They have six legs and bumpy exoskeletons. Their body is covered in tiny bristles and slightly pointed at the rear. The larvae of the most ladybug species are black with an orange or brightly colored spot.
Baby ladybug is as predatory as an adult ladybug (their parents). They spent almost all their time by eating aphids. They can eat dozens of aphids per day and up to 400 aphids during their lifetime before entering the next stages.
As the larvae rapidly grow, it will molts (sheds its skin) few times (usually four instar- a developmental stage that happens between molts). The newly hatched larvae will be in its first instar.
They will eat and grow bigger until their body is not fit into their cuticle (soft shell) anymore and molt.
The third stage of the ladybug life cycle is the pupal stage (pupae). Usually, this stage will last five to seven days depending on environmental variables and species.
You can easily find them attached to a surface of some leaves. This is their hind ends after several weeks of eating a lot and molting.
Ladybug pupae are dark-colored and slightly round. Normally it has an orange or yellow color with black markings.
A special cell called histoblasts directed a remarkable transformation of the ladybug body. It controls a biochemical process in which the larval body reformed into an adult ladybug.
The final stage of the ladybug cycle is adult. In this stage, they can last for several months. Adult ladybug has a sphere-shaped and can easily recognize because of their color and markings. The newly emerged adult ladybug will have soft and pink cuticle for a few hours.
Then, they develop the deep and their cuticle becomes hard. It will gains pigment that makes them become bright red. Then, it will become the adult ladybug that you know so well. Adult ladybug feeds on soft-bodied insects like aphids as their larvae do.
How to Find Ladybug Egg and Larvae
If you get a task from your teacher to make a resume about ladybug life cycle and provide a photo of each stage, you will need to find the place where the mother ladybug lays their eggs.
You will have access to prime ladybug habitat in a garden plant that has a lot of aphid infestations.
You can also ask your teacher if they might have a ladybug farm because lots of teachers have one. It is similar to a worm farm or an ant farm. They usually raise a ladybug to observe the wonderful transformation of ladybug life cycle and for their class.
The best way to make yourself get to know more about ladybug life cycle is by observing and visit the plant which their leaf has ladybug eggs daily. By doing that, you will learn and see with your own eyes how amazing a ladybug metamorphosis is.