Ladybird life-cycle and early stages
 
This page provides a general introduction to the life-cycle of the Ladybird. Public interest into this colourful group of beetles has greatly increased over the past few years following the recent arrival of the Harlequin Ladybird into the UK. This developing interest has also included Dilys and myself and we now make regular species counts at a variety of sites, to provide valuable data for the UK Ladybird Survey.
     
The Ladybird life-cycle

Like all insects, Ladybirds go through three stages of growth before becoming adult. The life-cycle is quite short and at a temperature of around 25C, the egg to adult stage can be completed within a month. Ladybird ovae (eggs) are small, with even the largest species such as Eyed Ladybird producing eggs of around 1mm length.

Ovae are yellow/orange and are laid in conspicuous groups on a variety of surfaces and usually within a good supply of aphids. A female Ladybird can lay several hundred ovae, with the female Harlequin being capable of laying up to 1000 ovae during her lifetime.

 
 
Ladybird larvae vary. Most species show differences in size, but all are marked differently. In some closely related species, these differences can be subtle and closer examination is required to determine species accurately. Most Ladybird larvae generally feed on a diet of aphids, but some species are vegetarian, eating plant material and mildews. The pupal stage is short (shorter at high average temperature) and pupae are fixed in a wide variety of sites. Certainly, 7-spot Ladybird larvae will make use of posts, plant stems and walls as a pupation site.
     
Eyed Ladybird ovae Photographed at Clipstone Old Quarter, Sherwood Forest May 16th 2006.   Eyed Ladybird newly hatched larvae Photographed at Clipstone Old Quarter, Sherwood Forest, June 1st 2006.
 
     
2-spot Ladybird larva Photographed at Market Warsop, May 2007. Length 8mm   7-spot Ladybird larva Photographed at Warsop Main Pit Top, May 2007. Length 12mm
 
     
Cream-streaked Ladybird larva Photographed at Clipstone Forest August 2006. Length 10mm   Orange Ladybird larva Photographed immediately prior to pupation at Clipstone Forest August 2006. Length 10mm
 
     
Harlequin Ladybird larva - Photographed at Nettleworth Manor, September 2007. Length 10mm   Eyed Ladybird larva - Photographed at Sherwood Forest, June 2008. Length 10mm
 
     
14-spot Ladybird larva - Photographed at Market Warsop, June 2009. Length 8.5mm   Pine Ladybird larva - Photographed at Sherwood Forest CP, July 2008. Length 7mm
 
     
7-spot Ladybird pupa - Photographed at Warsop Main Pit Top, May 2007. Length 8mm   7-spot Ladybird pupa - Photographed at Warsop Main Pit Top, May 2007. Length 8mm
 
     
2-spot Ladybird pupa - Photographed at Market Warsop, May 2007. Length 5mm   Harlequin Ladybird pupa - Photographed at Nettleworth Manor, September 2007. Length 8mm
 
     
Orange Ladybird pupa Photographed at Mansfield, September 2007. Length 6.5mm   Pine Ladybird pupa Photographed at Warsop Main Pit Top, October 2007. Length 6mm
 
     
Related Links

Other Ladybirds Related Pages can be found by clicking the links below.

 
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Insects
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