What's bugging you? Ladybug Larva

Why, you may ask, is this bug in the picture above getting a bad reputation in the gardening world?

By now, everyone knows that ladybugs are the good guys of the bug world.  They eat aphids, scale, whitefly and mites.  The adults can mass hibernate for up to 9 months if necessary but wake up and search for food when temperatures reach 13 degrees C and higher.  The adults can fly, so will take off in large groups in search of food – preferably aphids!

As outdoor temperatures continue to rise, the ladybugs will mate. The female will lay tiny yellow eggs in groups on the underside of leaves.  She will focus laying her eggs near a population of a food source.  The eggs usually take 3-10 days to hatch, depending on the outdoor temperatures. 

When the ladybug larvae hatch, they look nothing like an adult ladybug.  This is where the ‘bad rap’ comes in.  Here is a picture of a ladybug larvae!  Pretty scary huh?   You are not alone if you mistake this bug for a bad bug and want to get rid of them as soon as possible.

Photo: Ladybug Larvae- Pixabay

If at all in doubt, bring the larvae to Floral Acres or take a picture and email it to us for identification.

The larval stage lasts 20-30 days.  The larvae are voracious predators and while they prefer aphids, insect eggs and tiny worms, they will also eat the infertile ladybug eggs left on the plant.  To ward off their predator’s ladybug larvae ooze very smelly alkaloids from their abdomen when threatened. This unappealing taste plus their black and red coloring keeps most predators away. 

The larvae molt through four stages before entering the pupal stage.  This stage takes 3-12 days to occur and looks like a light-yellow/orange oval lump securely attached to a leaf.

Photo: Ladybug Pupa - Pixabay

The final stage is adulthood, and the cycle begins all over again!  It is estimated that a female ladybug will lay up to 1000 eggs in her one - year lifetime.  Pretty astounding considering she is hibernating most of that time!

 Photo: Adult Ladybug Feeding on Aphids - Pixabay

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