“Ladybugs may be the cutest insects around, but they don’t start off that way. Also called lady beetles or ladybirds, they pop out of their eggs as prickly mini-monsters with an insatiable hunger for aphids.
“Once they’ve bulked up, they transform, shedding their terrifying looks, but keeping their killer vibes.”
How do coccinellidae go from tiny golden eggs to red and black “mini-alligators,” to orange pupa casings, then finally emerging as the familiar red, black, and white beetles we know? And why don’t those aphids run from danger?
“Sometimes, the ladybug larva starts on one end of the aphid and eats it alive. Other times, it’ll just treat the aphid like a juice box – ditch what’s left and bail. In the roughly three weeks it takes the larva to grow up, it’ll eat hundreds of these scrumptious treats. It needs to bulk up for what comes next.
“The larva finds a cozy spot close to its favorite snacks. It exudes a sticky liquid from its backside and cements itself in place. Then, it hunches over and squirms in rhythmic convulsions. The larva’s about to say goodbye to its old goth look and reinvent itself.”
During a ladybug’s lifetime, in all forms, it will eat around 5,000 aphids, a benefit for the plants that are often overwhelmed with hungry, sap-sucking insects. And around 6,000 species of coccinellidae do this around the globe, with around 500 species in Canada and the United States combined.
• Free Life Cycle of a Ladybug Craft at Books and Willows.
• Help Cornell Researchers Find the Lost Ladybugs via SciStarter.
• Ladybug Identification Tools from The Lost Ladybug Project.
• Ladybug Facts and Photos at NatGeo Kids.