How long do ladybugs live?

There’s a popular myth about ladybugs and it says that you can tell how long an adult ladybug will live by just observing its spots. Well, that’s not true in any way at all. What you can only tell about a ladybug when you observe its spots is the species (that is, the type) of ladybug that it is.

However, we can still provide you with information about the lifespan of the bug by showing you how it evolves into an adult bug and factors that may shorten its lifespan.

But before we let you in on how long ladybugs live, we will like to share a few ladybug facts that we think you should know.

Here we go!

  • Ladybugs are insects that are part of the small beetles’ family and are of different species
  • The name “Ladybug” was given to these cute critters by Catholic farmers who were known to pray to Virgin Mary (duh-uh, they are Catholics) to protect their crops from pesky pests. As an answer to their prayer, or so we think, these beetles appeared from nowhere and ate up all the pests. On that wonderful day, these tiny beetles were christened “the beetles of our Lady”
  • The average size of a ladybug is within the range of 0.8 and 18 millimeters, depending on the sex and species of the bug. And there are more red ladybugs than other types of ladybugs but the yellow and orange ones are also commonly found
  • Ladybugs have black spots, a defining feature of this genus of insects, and black antennae with legs and heads. They also have spots of white on their head – with the twice-stabbed ladybug variant being an exception. This bug is considered an aggressive feeder
  • We know they are called “lady” bugs but they are not all female. Some are males. But it is a tad difficult to tell them apart without a magnifying glass or a keen eye. In any case, the males are usually smaller in size
  • Ladybugs can only successfully reproduce when they are of the same species. The reproductive organs of ladybugs are referred to as “lock and key” to explain how the male part will only fit into the female part of ladybugs within the same species

Now that we are done with some trivia on ladybugs, let’s take a closer look at the question that we are all about here. We’ll start with its lifecycle…

The Lifecycle of a Ladybug

Female ladybugs can produce over a thousand eggs in their lifetime. And like butterflies, every adult ladybug goes through a transformation process known as metamorphosis. The lifecycle starts from the eggs to the pupa to the larva then the young ladybug and finally the adult ladybug.

The females lay their eggs under leaves and in clusters of 10 to 50 without falling to the ground. They would normally deposit their eggs close to aphids so that the larvae can have adequate nutrition.

Eggs usually develop into larvae in about 3 to 5 days after they have been laid. The larvae will feed on aphids and insects for about 2 to 3 weeks before growing into pupae.

While laying their eggs, the females lay both infertile and fertile ones, with the infertile ones serving as food for the larvae. More often than not, food scarcity determines the ratio of fertile eggs to infertile eggs.

The larvae would have shed their skin many times before they get to the full larva size and then they begin to grow into pupae. The pupal stage lasts for about 7 days before the next stage begins.

After the 7-day period, the pupa doesn’t emerge into a ladybug immediately. It waits for its exoskeleton to harden (which can take up to an hour) before its whole body and spots begin to appear over the next 24 hours.

The final stage which is the transition from the pupa stage to the adult ladybug stage takes roughly 7 to 10 days.

Fully grown into a ladybug, this beetle continues to feed on aphids and scales. For example, the spider mite destroyer can eat as many as 100 mites in a single day.

Generally, the ladybug’s diet includes feasts on insect pests and it is for this reason that many farmers and gardeners love ladybugs – they protect their crops from crop-destroying pests.

Aphids, for instance, are known to suck the sap out of a good number of plants and a full infestation is likely to bring down a lush garden – making it a sore for the eye. However, a single ladybug in that garden will eat up to 5000 aphids and protect the plants from damage.

An adult ladybug is easy to detect because of its bright colors and spot patterns, depending on the species. Some may have stripes in place of spots. But the colors are very easy to point out as they define the typical ladybug.

The spots begin to fade as the bug gets much older while some remain spotless. These spots are also used as warning signs for predators to keep off and to let birds and lizards know that they are poisonous to them. While they remain poison to a number of predators, ladybugs are practically harmless to humans.

The bugs never build their own homes but live and thrive where insects are in large numbers like gardens, crop fields, and tree canopies.

The life cycle of a ladybug continues with mating and laying of eggs that will produce larvae and then bloom into ladybugs.

How long till they die?

Finally, ladybugs can live for up to a year and some species may even live for up to 2 or even 3 years before they max out. How long a ladybug lives usually depends on a number of factors apart from its species. These factors include the length of their hibernation, weather, predators, and food supply.

They can be found anywhere around the world but are commonly found in areas with warm climates. There are about 5000 species of the ladybug all over the world and 400 of these are in North America while 175 live in California.

Karen

Main editor

Expert in mosquito control and the main website editor at InsectCop.net. Karen started InsectCop to help people get rid of mosquitoes. But now she gives advice an all things pest control.

2 Comments

susan leeson

very interesting but I wondered if it is true the foreign ladybird is detrimental to the British one.

    Karen

    The Harlequin ladybirds (the foreign ladybird you’re most likely referring to) are most definitely detrimental to other species of ladybugs since they eat other ladybirds as well as their larvae and eggs.

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