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The time it takes for a ladybug egg to hatch and become an adult takes about 3 to 4 weeks depending on the weather conditions. The ladybug life cycle sure does happen fast!
Ladybug eggs are very small, oval in shape and are a pale yellow color. Mother ladybugs lay their eggs usually on the undersides of leaves to keep them protected from hungry predators. She makes sure that she leaves her eggs close to a lot of food (aphids) so her little darlings will have plenty to eat once they hatch 3 to 5 days after she lays the eggs.
When you think what a baby ladybug might look like, it's probably a really cute, tiny version of an adult ladybug, right? Well lets just say that a baby ladybug (larva) really lives up to the saying "A face only a mother could love". However, the moms don't stay around to take care of them. Her investment in parenting is to lay the eggs in a food rich environment and move on.
Baby ladybugs (ladybug larvae) are long and black with orange markings on its back, a little spikey looking and some say that they resemble alligators, a whole lot smaller of course! Baby ladybugs are virtually as predatory as their parents and spend their days eating and eating and eating, they can eat up to 400 aphids in 2 to 3 weeks, before they go through their awkward "teenage" stage.
After the ladybug babies have filled their little bellies and grown a bit they attach themselves to a leaf and pupate. This is the transition stage when in about a week they will turn into a beautiful little adult ladybug. I guess you could think of a ladybug's life cycle being similar to the Ugly Duckling story!
Images in our ladybug life cycle diagram were kindly provided by our friends at Butterfly-nature.com. If you would like to see more detailed versions of the photos you have seen here, they are available at their site as well as a wealth of information on butterflies and their life cycles.
Birth of a Ladybug ( ladybug life cycle in action )
The below video is a great little series of stills that captures a good portion of the ladybug life cycle. What is really cool about this video is that you actually get to see that when a ladybug goes from its larval stage to it's adult stage is that it actually transitions into an adult without any spots.
The video is in french so I have done a loose translation of the video narrative below to guide you.
Birth of a Ladybug: Video Translation:
1. There are only some minor movements from the ladybug larva during the 5 days of observation.
2. After 5 days of monitoring, the newly formed ladybug breaks out of its larval encasing.
3. 8 minutes later, the ladybug is entirely yellow, without spots. The elytra is still soft.
4. After 15 minutes, the lower spots start to appear and the wings are gradually exposed.
5. 1 hour later, the lower spots are well defined and the large spots begin to appear. After they are complete and well marked the wings retract under the elytra.
6. The ladybug is now orange with well marked spots and tries a small flight.
7. After a few days the ladybug's red color is final and it has its freedom back.
8. A new generation will soon be raised in order to perpetuate the ladybug species.
Seven-spotted Ladybug Emerging From It's Pupa
In this series of images a seven-spot ladybug or ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) is emerging from it's pupa. These images were taken in Hengelo, Overijssel, Netherlands. Click image for hi-resolution view.
As the ladybug first starts to emerge the elytra (the outer shell of the ladybug) is wrinkled spotless and yellow in color. It is also somewhat split open at the rear portion of the body.
About 10 minutes after the ladybug has fully exited the elytra have fully closed and 5 minutes later they have become smooth, shiny and fully expanded.
The ladybug now begins to work on expanding its wings. During this period, the color also begins to appear in the elytra and spots start become visible within a half hour.
About half a day later the ladybug starts to show us it's signature color and look. Note that the ladybug has a somewhat metallic luster. It is still fresh and may in time take a visibly redder hue.
Learn about the anatomy of ladybugs. The most well known part of the ladybug is called the elytra which is the outer hard shell-like wings of the ladybug.
Learn some great facts about ladybugs such as what they are, what they eat, where to find them and much more!
Ladybug for Pest Control
Ladybugs are renowned for their abilities to control a number of pests that eat our plants. Learn the facts about ladybugs & pest control here.
Learn how to attract ladybugs to your yard or property the natural way. On this page we have some info how to get these colorful little beauties to start showing up in your garden.