Ladybug Life Cycle
Ladybugs, also called lady beetles, are small, spotted beetles that are well-liked by many people. They don't begin their lives as the easy-to-spot red and black spotted insects, though. In fact, you may not even recognize a young ladybug if it crawled right in front of your nose!
Ladybugs transform through four stages in a process called metamorphosis, which is when a creature changes completely, moving through the stages of its life cycle. The ladybug life cycle includes these stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. A ladybug looks very different in each of the stages. Let's explore them now.
Egg and Larva
Ladybug eggs are often found on the bottom of a leaf. A mother ladybug will lay her yellow, bean-shaped eggs in large clusters or lines. The eggs are usually near a large group of aphids or other plant pests because they're a ladybug's main source of food. The mother ladybug makes sure the eggs have plenty of food as soon as they hatch. It's like being born in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant!
The larva stage begins when the ladybug hatches from its egg. The ladybug larva has six legs, a long tail, and black spikes surrounding its body. In this stage, the larva looks more like a spiny lizard than the spotted beetle it will grow to be.
The larva begins to eat as soon as it hatches. The newly hatched larva can bite, and it uses this skill to feast on tiny plant pests, like the aphids we talked about earlier. A ladybug larva can eat up to 25 aphids a day! Could you imagine eating 25 sandwiches in one day?
All this eating makes the larva grow quickly. A ladybug larva sheds its skin when it outgrows its current skin. The larva has to eat plenty to make sure it has enough energy stored up for the next stage in the ladybug life cycle.
Pupa and Adult
When the ladybug larva has eaten and grown as much as it can, it begins the pupa stage. The larva finds a safe place and attaches its long tail to a leaf or twig. The larva then begins to work on creating a pupa. A pupa is a shell that protects the ladybug while it transforms. A pupa is like a strong tent. It keeps the ladybug warm and safe inside.
A pupa still doesn't look like an adult red and black ladybug. A ladybug pupa looks more like a black and orange hermit crab. The pupa doesn't eat or move much during this stage. All of its energy is used on transforming into the next stage of the ladybug life cycle.
After a week or two of transforming inside the pupa, an adult ladybug emerges. This begins the last stage of the ladybug life cycle. An adult ladybug is usually red with black spots on its back. Their backs are dome shaped and hide a set of wings under a hard shell.
Adult ladybugs spend most of their time eating. During this stage, ladybugs can eat up to 50 aphids a day. People that grow crops love ladybugs because they help keep plants healthy by eating lots of harmful plant pests.
Adult ladybugs can live up to a year. This means some ladybugs have to live through cold winters. When it gets too cold, ladybugs hibernate, just like bears.
The ladybug life cycle includes four stages:
- Larva, baby ladybugs that don't look at all like what they will as adults
- Pupa, a protective shell inside of which larva transform into adults
- Adult ladybug
Ladybugs look very different in each stage. The complete ladybug transformation is called metamorphosis.
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Ladybug Life Cycle: Word Search Activity
This activity will help you assess your knowledge of the stages of a ladybug's life cycle.
For this activity, you'll need a printer to reproduce the following page. Search for and circle or highlight the words that will complete each of the given clues. Afterward, neatly write them in the appropriate spaces.
- __________ are beetles having a round shape and a shell with a great variety of colorful patterns.
- The __________ of a lady beetle has an appetite for aphids and mites.
- Ladybugs have small __________ spots on their wing covers, with black legs, heads, and antennae.
- Once a female ladybug has mated, she proceeds to lay __________ on a plant that has plenty of food.
- __________ are soft-bodied pests that use their piercing mouthparts to feed on plants.
- The larva of a ladybug often sheds its __________ to grow and assume a new form.
- An insect in its development stage between a larva and an adult is called a __________.
- Adult ladybugs can live up to a __________ and spend most of their time munching on aphids.
- During the cold season, a ladybug would typically go inside rotting logs or beneath rocks to __________.
- A female ladybug lays a cluster of tiny __________, bean-shaped eggs.
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