Most recently reviewed by: Pat Porter (2018)
Common Name(s): Lady Beetle, Ladybug
Lady beetles, also commonly called “ladybugs” or “ladybird beetles”, are considered predators of other small soft-bodied insects. Adult beetles can vary in coloration and pattern of spots, depending on the species. Even within species, such as the multicolored Asian ladybeetle (Harmonia axyridis), coloration can vary from yellow to red, and no spots to 19 spots (Koch 2003). The larva are soft-bodied and typically covered in small ‘spikes’, however, for some species of lady beetles, the larva are covered in a white wax, appearing much like a mealybug.
There are a number of naturally occurring and introduced lady beetle species. The spotted lady beetle, Coleomegilla maculata (DeGeer) is dark pink, and has large black spots on the wing covers (elytra) and no white markings on the shield just behind the head (pronotum). Other naturally occurring lady beetles include scale and mealybug predators, such as Hyperaspis lateralis (Mulsant), which are black with red spots on the elytra. These species are all black except for two red spots on the elytra. The twice-stabbed form of Olla v-nigrum is also black with two red spots on the elytra, but also has white markings on the side of the pronotum. Ollah v-nigrum also has a grey/white variant with black spots. One of the smaller lady beetle species is Scymnus loewii Mulsant, being only 1/16 inch long. Adult beetles are dull orange on the sides with a black “V” on the wing covers. Larvae of this species, which feed on aphids and mites, and secrete wax filaments on their bodies which make them look much like mealybugs.
Mouthparts are for chewing. Larvae and adults feed on aphids, scales, eggs of caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects and mites. Adults occasionally feed on nectar, pollen and honeydew (exudate of aphids and other sucking insects). Adults disperse seeking feeding and reproduction sites.
Female adult beetles lay yellow oval-shaped eggs in clusters or singly near infestations of aphids or other pests. Larvae hatch from eggs and develop through several larval stages until they pupate. Development from egg to adult takes 2 to 3 weeks.
Koch, R. L. (2003). The multicolored Asian lady beetle, Harmonia axyridis: A review of its biology, uses in biological control, and non-target impacts. Journal of Insect Science, 3, 32.