Ladybug Egg Information: What Do Ladybug Eggs Look Like
By: Amy Grant
Lady beetles, ladybugs, ladybird beetles or whatever you can them, are one of the most beneficial insects in the garden. The process of getting to be an adult ladybug is somewhat convoluted and requires a four stage life cycle process known as complete metamorphosis. Because you want to encourage ladybugs in the garden, it’s good to know what ladybug eggs look like as well as familiarize yourself with ladybug larvae identification so you don’t accidently do away with one.
Ladybug Egg Information
The first stage in becoming a ladybug is the egg stage, so let’s absorb a little ladybug egg information. Once the female has mated, she lays between 10-50 eggs on a plant that has plenty of food for her children to eat once hatched, usually a plant infested with aphids, scaleor mealybugs. Over the course of the spring and early summer, one female ladybug can lay up to 1,000 eggs.
Some scientists think that ladybugs lay both fertile and infertile eggs within the cluster. The supposition is that if food (aphids) is in limited supply, the young larvae can feed on the infertile eggs.
What do ladybug eggs look like? There are many different species of ladybug and their eggs look slightly different. They may be pale-yellow to almost white to a bright orange/red in color. They are always taller than they are wide and clustered tightly together. Some are so tiny you can barely make them out, but most are around 1 mm. in height. They may be found on the undersides of leaves or even on flower pots.
Ladybug Larvae Identification
You may have seen the larvae of ladybugs and either wondered what they were or assumed (incorrectly) that anything that looks like that has got to be a bad guy. It’s true that the larvae of ladybugs look rather fearsome. The best description is that they look like tiny alligators with elongated bodies and armored exoskeletons.
While they are completely harmless to you and to your garden, ladybug larvae are voracious predators. A single larva can eat dozens of aphids per day and eat other soft-bodied garden pests as well such as scale, adelgids, mites and other insect eggs. In an eating frenzy, they might even eat other ladybug eggs too.
When first hatched, the larva is in its first instar and feeds until it is too big for its exoskeleton, at which time it molts – and will usually molt a total of four times before pupating. When the larva is ready to pupate, it attaches itself to a leaf or other surface.
The larvae pupate and emerge as adults in between 3-12 days (depending upon the species and environmental variables, and thus begins another cycle of ladybugs in the garden.
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After receiving your package of live ladybugs, leave the bag sealed and place them in a refrigerator, or other cool place. This calms ladybugs down from their shipping experience. Early evening is the best time to release ladybugs, and gives them all night to settle in, find food and water, and realize they've found a good home (your garden). Ladybugs are usually thirsty from their long journey and storage, and appreciate moist places to drink. If necessary, sprinkle some water around first before their release. Later on, they'll get most of their moisture needs from eating aphids and other "juicy" plant pests.
Ladybugs like having large pest populations to eat, which helps stimulate them to mate and lay eggs. When food is harder to find, adult ladybugs may fly off, but their eggs then hatch and provide further control. (Both adults and larvae feed on insect pests.) If desired, you can keep ladybug adults from flying by "gluing" their wings shut, temporarily, with a sugar-water solution. Half water and half sugared pop (Coke, Pepsi, etc.), in a spray bottle, works fine. Spray it right in the bag the ladybugs come in, as soon as you open it. You'll easily coat most of them. After a week or so, the "glue" wears off.
What do ladybug eggs and larvae look like? Their eggs look like clusters of little orange footballs, each laid on edge. After hatching, they'll look like tiny black "alligators", with orange spots. Extremely fast moving, they grow to 1/2" long over 2-3 weeks, then pupate, usually on the top of the leaf, into another adult ladybug. One larvae will eat about 400 medium-size aphids during its development to the pupal stage. An adult ladybug may eat over 5,000 aphids during its lifetime (about a year).
When not being used, ladybugs may be stored in the refrigerator, where they live off their body fat. (Keep the temperature between 35-45° F.) They appear almost dead in the refrigerator, but quickly become active when warmed up. How long can they be stored? Usually 2-3 months, but it depends on the time of year, and some losses can be expected the longer they're stored. During early spring (March and April) they should be used somewhat sooner, as these are older ladybugs from the previous year. During May, ladybugs should be released immediately. The new ladybug crop comes in about June 1, and these young ladybugs actually seem to benefit from refrigeration 1-2 months - it simulates winter for them. (Note: Modern frost-free refrigerators tend to dry out ladybugs in storage. For prolonged storage, your bags of ladybugs can be misted or sprinkled with water, perhaps every 2-3 weeks. Allow ladybugs to dry at room temperature until moisture is mostly evaporated, then replace ladybugs in refrigerator.) Ladybugs are one of the few insects we sell that are collected in the wild, rather than insectary grown, so we are dependant on their natural lifecycle for collections and storage. We "crawl clean" all Ladybugs before shipping to ensure that only live ones are sent out, although a small loss in shipping is normal.
In order for ladybugs to mature and lay eggs, they need nectar and pollen sources. This is normally supplied by a wide range of sources such as flowering plants and legumes (peas, beans, clover, alfalfa). If desired, you can use Beneficial Insect Food as a pollen substitute.
Suggested release rates for ladybugs vary widely - we've seen recommendations varying from 1 gallon (72,000) for 10 acres, up to 3 gallons per acre. You can't use too many ladybugs, but remember that they do need time to work - ladybugs need to be released early enough in the pest cycle so they can do their job, and regular, repeated releases of small amounts are often for effective than one, very large release of ladybugs. For home use, 1,500 is usually enough for one application in a small greenhouse or garden. For larger areas, a quart (18,000) or gallon (72,000) of ladybugs may be desired. Many people store ladybugs in the refrigerator, and make regular repeat releases, perhaps weekly.
If ladybugs are used indoors or in a greenhouse, screen off any openings to prevent their escape. And, of course, you'll want to avoid spraying with pesticides, both after release and for at least a month before. (Soapy sprays, such as Safers, are an exception - you can use them right up to the arrival of the ladybugs, and indeed, ladybugs hard outer shell seems to protect them from soapy sprays even afterwards. Botanical pesticides [pyrethrin, rotenone, etc.] are ok to use if you wait a week before releasing ladybugs.)
Some people believe that ladybugs bring good luck. We hope they bring you good luck, too!
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|1,500||Please call 541-245-6033 to order.|
|4,500||Please call 541-245-6033 to order.|
|18,000||Please call 541-245-6033 to order.|
|72,000||Please call 541-245-6033 to order.|
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Ladybugs in Florida
Ladybugs have a variety of names—ladybird, ladybeetle—but they all refer to this family of beetles. There are around 6,000 species of ladybugs worldwide and 98 species of ladybugs in Florida.
Ladybugs are oval, small, often brightly-colored insects that are toxic to would-be predators. Ladybugs are considered beneficial because they typically eat plant pests, such as aphids.
The beetle’s oval yellow eggs hatch into larvae that have been described as looking “alligator-like.” Some larvae may excrete a white substance that makes them look similar to mealybugs (see picture below). These larvae then pupate to move on to their adult stage we recognize as ladybugs.
There is a wide variety of adult ladybug appearances. Some are red with black spots some black with red spots and some even have no spots and are solid black, orange, or red.
The different ladybugs in Florida feed on the following:
- Scale insects
Ladybugs eat flower nectar, water and honeydew excretions if prey is scarce. Two members of the ladybug family will also eat plants: the squash beetle (Epilachna borealis) and the Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis). Ladybugs also benefit from plants with extrafloral nectaries. These plants have nectar-producing glands apart from the flower and offer an additional food source especially during harsh weather conditions, such as droughts. Read "Many Plants Have Extrafloral Nectaries Helpful to Beneficials" to learn more about extrafloral nectaries.
Predatory ladybugs are used for biological control of plant pests. In some cases, ladybugs can provide strong control of pest populations, especially in combination with other predators or parasites of pests. Ladybugs can be purchased for consumer use, but keep in mind that released ladybugs may not establish in your garden—if they do not like the conditions, they will simply fly away.
A good way to increase ladybug and other beneficial organisms is to encourage the growth of populations that are already present. Make conditions as favorable as possible and avoid spraying chemicals that will harm them.
Gardeners sometimes mistake ladybug larvae and pupae for pests and kill them. Make sure you are familiar with what the different lifecycle stages of ladybugs look like so you can help them find a happy home in your landscape.
For questions about ladybugs, biological control, or insect identification, contact your local Extension agent.
Types of Ladybugs (Hippodamia)
No discussion of the types of ladybugs in the United States is complete without mention of the Hippodamia genera. In total it consists of over a dozen species, including the American Lady Beetle (Hippodamia americana), an Upper Midwest and Canadian species. Physical appearance varies greatly from species to species. The picture shows the Convergent Lady Beetle, another common species available in the commercial market. Convergent ladybugs overwinter in large aggregations, where they are collected for commercial purposes.
The spot pattern on the wings varies from region to region. However the two white stripes on the black neck area often serve as good field identification clues. Today they can be found from coast to coast.
The white stripes on the Protonotum identify Hippodamia sinuata species. There are a handful of subspecies, each showing differing wing patterns.
Pictures two and three shows a sinuata subspecies with variable spot patterns on the wings.
Finally, wing pattern variability in the fourth picture makes it difficult to identify the final Hippodamia species. Of note is the fact that the subject in the picture is also missing one of the white stripes on the Protonotum.
Using Ladybugs as Natural Pest Control
Ladybugs spend their whole lives snacking on a slew of aphids, as well as other soft-bodied pests like mealybugs, mites, scales, leafhoppers, and the larvae and eggs of other insects.
An adult ladybug can consume up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime! Think of them as Mother Nature’s pest control crew.
When aphids are scarce, ladybugs will feed on pollen and nectar. When all food supplies are short, ladybugs will turn cannibalistic.
Ladybugs (or more accurately, lady beetles, since they come from a family of beetles and are not true bugs) can live for up to a year, depending on temperature, humidity, and food supply.
They like to lay their eggs near aphid colonies and a female ladybug can lay anywhere from 50 to 300 yellow, oval-shaped eggs, all in small clusters on the undersides of leaves. The eggs hatch within a few days and the larvae will feed voraciously (up to 400 aphids!) before they pupate.
That’s 400 aphids in less than a month — for each larva! It’s a wonder how I even have any aphids at all with those little Hoovers.
FAQS about ladybug
Some of the frequently asked questions about ladybugs are:
1. How long do ladybugs live?
Once the adult ladybug comes out of pupal age, it will live for one year before dying.
2. How long do the eggs take to hatch?
The time taken by eggs to hatch depends on the temperature. Usually, if the temperature is ambient after the female lays eggs, they take seven to ten days to hatch. After that larvae take 30 days to grow up and enter the pupal stage that lasts for 15 days.
3. Do all classifications of ladybugs get rid of pests?
Yes, ladybugs have more than 20 lower classifications however, all of them are beneficial for your garden and will eat up all the pests in the garden.
4. How do they survive in winter?
In winter, ladybugs look for humid and warm atmospheres. Thus, in most cases, they go inside the house and hibernate.
1500 Live Ladybugs – Good Bugs – Ladybugs
- Includes a Ladybug educational sheet with Release Tips, Release Rates, Ladybug Fun Facts and FAQ’s
- 1500 Live Ladybugs, Live Delivery Guaranteed!!
- Ladybugs are general predators that feed on a variety of slow-moving insects including Aphids, Moth eggs, Mites, Scales, Thrips, Leaf Hoppers, Mealybugs, Chinch Bugs, Asparagus Beetle larvae, Whitefly and others.
- Ladybugs are good bugs great for kids, birthday parties, school projects!
- Nature’s Good Guys mesh bag of Live adult ladybugs
In general, releasing ladybugs in a home garden is not very effective for controlling aphids or other small insect pests. Beneficial insect releases work well in greenhouses, where the environment is enclosed and they can't just fly away. But in the home garden, ladybugs tend to disperse.
Here's the problem: Commercial vendors collect the ladybugs during the winter or early spring when the beetles have aggregated in large numbers at their overwintering sites. They keep the ladybugs inactive by refrigerating them until it is time for shipping.
In their native environment, the ladybugs become active again as temperatures rise. When spring weather arrives, the first thing they do is disperse to find food. So when vendors ship these ladybugs, still groggy from their winter diapause, they are genetically programmed to disperse. And they will unless you do something to make them stay.
Some catalogs sell "preconditioned" ladybugs, which means the ladybugs have been fed prior to shipping. This makes them less likely to disperse upon release, so if you are going to try a ladybug release, buy only the preconditioned kind.