The ladybug life cycle is not much
different from the life cycle of a butterfly. The ladybug goes through the
same four stages as a butterfly, the egg stage, the larvae stage, the pupa
stage, and the adult ladybug stage. You know what adult ladybugs look
like, but you wouldnít even recognize them before they get to that final
stage of their lives.
Ladybug Eggs with some Larvae Newly Hatched
Female ladybugs lay their eggs on the
underside of leaves. This is to protect them from being seen by flying
predators as well as from the weather. A mother ladybug will lay from ten
to fifteen eggs in one place and she will make sure that it is a place
where the babies can find food when they hatch. The ladybug eggs look
similar to yellow jellybeans, except that they are tiny. The next time you
are in the park in springtime, carefully look under some plant leaves and
see if you can pick out some ladybug eggs, but donít touch them because
you could kill the babies.
Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will come
out and start looking for something to eat. They will look for tiny mites
or aphids and they should find plenty because the mother found the perfect
leaf to lay her eggs under because of the abundance of food for the larvae
to find. Newborn larvae look sort of like tiny alligators. After only a
few days, the larvae will be large enough to begin to molt (shed their
skin), and they keep molting for as long as they are growing. You can find
the molted skins on leaves if you look very hard.
After a couple of weeks of growing, the
larvae will start to change into something that looks like a shrimp. It
will find a leaf to attach itself to and it will seem to fall asleep for a
few days, but it is not sleeping at all. During the pupa stage, the larvae
are going through a metamorphosis into a ladybug.
When the metamorphosis is complete, the skin of the larvae will split open and the full grown ladybug will emerge, but it still wonít look like the ladybug that you know so well. It will look soft and pink or very pale for a couple of hours until its shell becomes hard. As the shell hardens it also gains pigment, which causes the ladybug to become bright red.
Some people likeraising
ladybugs in ladybug farms similar to an ant
farm or a worm farm. They do
this because they love ladybugs and so that they can watch the wonderful
transformation of the ladybug life cycle. Lots of teachers have ladybug
farms. If your teacher doesnít have one, you should ask him or her to
get a ladybug farm for the classroom.