The Life Cycle of Ladybugs
The ladybug life cycle is not much different from the life cycle of a butterfly. The ladybug
goes through the same four stages as a butterfly, the egg stage, the larvae stage, the pupa stage, and the adult ladybug stage.
You know what adult ladybugs look like, but you wouldn’t even recognize them before they get to that final stage of
Female ladybugs lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. This is to protect them from being seen by flying
predators as well as from the weather. A mother ladybug will lay from ten to fifteen eggs in one place and she will make sure
that it is a place where the babies can find food when they hatch. The ladybug eggs look similar to yellow jellybeans, except
that they are tiny. The next time you are in the park in springtime, carefully look under some plant leaves and see if you
can pick out some ladybug eggs, but don’t touch them because you could kill the babies.
Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will come out and start looking for something to eat. They will
look for tiny mites or aphids and they should find plenty because the mother found the perfect leaf to lay her eggs under
because of the abundance of food for the larvae to find. Newborn larvae look sort of like tiny alligators. After only a few
days, the larvae will be large enough to begin to molt (shed their skin), and they keep molting for as long as they are growing.
You can find the molted skins on leaves if you look very hard
After a couple of weeks of growing, the larvae will start to change into something that looks like a shrimp.
It will find a leaf to attach itself to and it will seem to fall asleep for a few days, but it is not sleeping at all. During
the pupa stage, the larvae are going through a metamorphosis into a ladybug
Adult Ladybug Stage
When the metamorphosis is complete, the skin of the larvae will split open and the full grown
ladybug will emerge, but it still won’t look like the ladybug that you know so well. It will look soft and pink or very
pale for a couple of hours until its shell becomes hard. As the shell hardens it also gains pigment, which causes the ladybug
to become bright red.