Ladybird Life Cycle
Most Ladybirds mate in the spring or summer and the female lays a cluster of eggs (numbering from a few to a few hundred, depending on species) as near as possible to an aphid colony. In most species of ladybird these eggs hatch into a larval state within a week. This state lasts 10 – 15 days, and they then go into a pupal stage before becoming an adult ladybird. The entire life cycle of the ladybird is only 4 – 7 weeks.
Ladybirds lay extra infertile eggs with the fertile eggs. These appear to provide a backup food source for the larvae when they hatch. The ratio of infertile to fertile eggs increases with scarcity of food at the time of egg laying.
Like all insects, the ladybird is no different in that it undergoes complete metamorphosis through its life cycle.
The 4 stages are: egg – larvae – pupae – adult.
- The female ladybird lays many tiny eggs in an aphid colony – the fertilization of the eggs is performed inside of the ladybird. In the spring a ladybird can lay up to 300 eggs in one time.
- The larvae then hatches from the tiny eggs. The larvae has 6 legs and is a long shape. As the larvae grows rapidly, it sheds its skin several times.
- When it reaches full size, it attaches itself to the stem of a plant (by its tail). The larval skin then splits down the back exposing the pupae.
- The pupae is the size of an adult ladybird however, it is all wrapped up at this stage of the metamorphosis. The wrapping protects the pupae while it undergoes the final stages of metamorphosis into the adult stage. This last stage only takes a few days.
There may be as many as 6 generations of ladybirds hatched in a year.