- Ladybugs are insects. They’re part of the Coccinellidae family of small beetles and come in more than 5000 different species.
- Also known as ladybirds in the UK, these cute critters were named after none other than the Virgin Mary. The seven spots found on the most prevalent species of ladybugs in Europe were a reminder of the seven sorrows she had to endure. These insects have had many other interesting names in the past, including “lady cow”!
- Ladybugs can range from 0.03 to 0.71 in. (0.8 to 18 mm) in length, depending on the sex and species.
- There are more red ladybugs than other types, but yellow and orange ladybugs are also common.
- The ladybug’s black spots are a defining feature of this genus of insects. The same goes for their black antennae, heads, and legs. Most ladybugs also have white spots on their heads (the twice-stabbed ladybug is an exception to this).
- Ladybugs are considered aggressive feeders.
- They may be called ladybugs, but not all ladybugs are female. Some are male. It can be 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 with the same species. The reproductive organs of male ladybugs will only fit into the female part of ladybugs of the same species. This is known as “lock and key.”
Now that we’ve finished with our ladybug trivia, let’s take a closer look at the question that brought us here.
If you want to know how long a ladybug can live, we should start with the ladybug’s lifecycle…
The Lifecycle of a Ladybug
Female ladybugs can produce over a thousand eggs in their lifetime. Like butterflies, every adult ladybug goes through a transformation process known as metamorphosis. The lifecycle goes from egg to larva to pupa before finally becoming an adult ladybug.
The females lay their eggs on the bottom side of leaves, in clusters of 5 to 50 at a time. They normally lay their eggs near aphids so that the larvae can have adequate food after hatching. While laying their eggs, the females lay both infertile and fertile ones. These infertile eggs can serve as food for the newborn larvae. More often than not, food scarcity determines the ratio of fertile eggs to infertile eggs.
These eggs usually hatch after about 3 to 5 days. The newly-hatched larvae will feed on aphids and other soft-bodied plant pests for about 2 to 3 weeks. The larvae shed their skin many times before getting to the final larva size. Then they begin to form their pupae. The pupal stage lasts for about 7 to 15 days before the next stage begins.
A ladybug doesn’t emerge from the pupa fully formed. These young adults have a soft exoskeleton that needs to harden. Its body coloring will also darken and its spots will begin to appear.
The life cycle of a ladybug continues with mating and the laying of the next generation of eggs so that the circle of life can continue.
What Do Ladybugs Eat?
A fully-grown ladybug continues to feed on aphids and scales. For example, the spider mite destroyer ladybug can eat as many as 100 mites in a single day.
Generally, ladybugs feast on pests. This is why many farmers and gardeners love ladybugs: they protect crops from crop-destroying pests.
Aphids, for instance, suck the sap out of a good number of plants. An aphid infestation can destroy a lush garden, making it an eyesore. A single ladybug in that garden can eat up to 5000 aphids and protect the plants from damage.
Why Do Ladybugs Have Spots?
An adult ladybug is easy to detect because of its bright colors and spots, which vary depending on the species. Some may have stripes in place of spots. The colors are very easy to see and define the typical ladybug. These spots begin to fade as the bug gets older while some species will remain spotless.
These spots are also used as a warning for predators to keep away. They let birds and lizards know that ladybugs are poisonous. While they are poisonous for many predators, ladybugs are practically harmless to humans.
Where Do Ladybugs Live?
The bugs never build their own homes. Instead, they live and thrive where their food sources flourish, including gardens, fields, and tree canopies.
How Long Do Ladybugs Live For?
So, to answer your question, ladybugs can live for up to a year. Some species even live for 2 or 3 years.
How long a ladybug lives usually depends on many factors, apart from its species. These factors include how long they hibernate, the weather, the predators, and the food supply.
You can find ladybugs anywhere in the world, but they’re most commonly found in warm climates. There are about 5000 species of ladybug all over the world. Of these, 400 live in North America. In the state of California, there are 175 different species of ladybug!