An instantly recognisable and much-loved beetle, yet many people wouldn’t recognise the other stages of a ladybird’s lifecycle. We are very familiar with frogspawn and tadpoles, or birds and their eggs, but the early stages of a ladybird’s life are much less known – their distinctive larvae and pupae are often overlooked. However, on plants and trees in our schools, streets, gardens and parks, the ladybird lifecycle is probably one of the most accessible complete life stories to observe and enjoy.
Ladybirds mate in spring and then the female lays eggs on leaves or tree bark. The eggs will hatch after 3-5 days.
After hatching the dark-grey 7-spot ladybird larva grows quickly for 3-4 weeks – shedding its outer skin regularly. It then attaches itself to a leaf and become a pupa. Inside the pupa the ladybird changes from larva to adult. This change is called metamorphosis. Look carefully at plant or tree leaves during late spring or summer and you could discover the almost lizard-looking larva or more ladybird-like pupa.
All photos are 7-spot ladybirds, except the egg-laying image which is a harlequin ladybird.