The Life Cycle of a Ladybug: Stages & Explanation

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  • 0:00 Ladybug Life Stages
  • 0:49 Egg
  • 1:21 Larva
  • 2:13 Pupa
  • 2:45 Adult
  • 3:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brad Fessenden
In this lesson, we'll learn about the life cycle of a familiar garden creature, the ladybug. Ladybugs go through an incredible transformation with four life stages. Let's explore the life cycle of this familiar little beetle.

Ladybug Life Stages

As humans, we change as we grow up, but not too much. While we get taller and stronger, our basic shape and form remain the same. That is not the case for many insects. Many of us are familiar with the transformation a caterpillar must go through to become a beautiful butterfly. This is a common kind of transition that many insects go through.

In fact, ladybugs go through this same life cycle: complete metamorphosis. During complete metamorphosis, insects move through four distinct life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Let's look at the details of each of these life stages in ladybugs as they go from crawling caterpillar-like creatures to the tiny red and black polka-dotted beetles we all know.

Egg

After a pair of adult ladybugs mate, the female will lay dozens of pale yellow, oval-shaped eggs on the undersides of leaves. She will typically lay the eggs in tiny clusters of 10-30 eggs. These eggs will take 5-10 days to hatch depending on conditions such as temperature. The location in which these eggs have been laid is important because they must be hidden from predators, kept safe from harsh environmental conditions, and placed where there is an ample food supply.

Larva

After spending 5-10 days developing in an egg case, a tiny creature will emerge - a ladybug larva. Ladybug larvae don't look like ladybugs in this stage; instead, they sometimes have a bluish color with orange spots and spiny protrusions.

Immediately after hatching, the larva begins to eat. The larva will first start munching on its egg casing and frequently even eat smaller siblings. The ladybug larva will then begin to search for high-protein meals, such as aphids, scale insects, and mites. This voracious foraging causes the larva to grow rapidly, requiring it to shed its outer covering, called an exoskeleton. This process of shedding the exoskeleton is called molting. Ladybug larvae will molt as many as 5-10 more times before undergoing the next stage of their transformation.

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