Insects wiggle out of tiny eggs. The larvae eat voraciously for 20-30 days before transforming again into their pupal stage of life. Around one or two weeks later, the adult ladybugs ready themselves to lift their elytra, unfold their wings, and take off.
Females lay their tiny eggs in yellow clusters under a leaf or stem, often near a colony of aphids (tiny garden pests that damage many plants.) Within a week, the eggs hatch into alligator-shaped larvae that start gobbling up aphids, tiny worms and a variety of insect eggs. Both larvae and the adults are beneficial predators in the garden.
The life cycle of a ladybug (egg to mature adult) takes 4 to 8 weeks. As adults, most ladybugs live 1 year and can eat 5,000 aphids in their lifetime. They also go through diapause or hibernate (up to 9 months) to survive the cold temperatures of winter (below 55 degrees). During this state you may find them in masses on tree trunks, logs, ground cover, and sometimes in buildings. They can’t really fly again until it warms up (more than 55 degrees).
If you decide to release ladybugs purchased from a nursery into your garden, remember that they were forced to hibernate (in the refigerator) and once they warm up in your garden they will be HUNGRY! You might want to put a lid with droplets of sugar water below the plant so they have a hearty first meal. If they have enough food (aphids) they will mate and lay eggs, continuing the life cycle in your garden. A happy garden habitat is one without CHEMICALS!
Watch more beetles and ladybugs on TKSST:
• Ladybug swarm and how they reveal their wings to fly
• A ladybug life cycle time-lapse
• Slow-mo ladybugs look like they can’t fly before they do
• A window into ladybug wing origami