Lady Beetles

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HPIPM Home > Woody Ornamentals > Miscellaneous > Biological Controls of Insects Associated with Trees and Shrubs >Lady Beetles
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Taxonomy
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Hexapoda (including Insecta)
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Coccinellidae
Common Names

lady beetle

Compiled by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University:

Coleoptera: Coccinellidae

Often called "ladybugs" or "ladybird beetles", lady beetles (Coccinellidae) are the most familiar insect predator to most people. Although dozens of species occur in Colorado, they are all typically a round-oval shape. Most are also brightly colored and often spotted.

Females periodically lay masses of orange-yellow eggs. The eggs are quite distinctive, although they somewhat resemble those produced by elm leaf beetle. Eggs are usually laid near colonies of insects (aphids, scales, etc.) which will later be fed on by the larvae.

During the summer eggs hatch in about five days. The immature or larval stages look very different from the more familiar adults and often are overlooked or misidentified. Lady beetle larvae are elongated, usually dark colored and flecked with orange or yellow. They can crawl rapidly over plants, searching for food.

Adult and larval lady beetles feed on large numbers of small soft-bodied insects such as aphids. Lady beetles also eat eggs of many insects. Pollen, nectar and honeydew are other common foods.

One group of very small black lady beetles, aptly dubbed the "spider mite destroyers" (Stethorus) are also very important in controlling spider mites. Another unusual group are Coccidophilus spp. which are important predators of scales. Larvae of some lady beetles, e.g., those which specialize on aphids within leaf curls or feed on mealybugs, produce waxy threads which cover their body.

Lady beetles reproduce rapidly during the summer and can complete a generation in less than four weeks under favorable conditions. As a result, they often overtake a pest outbreak, controlling many potential insect problems.

Unfortunately, lady beetles tend to be 'fair weather' insects that are slow to arrive in the spring and often leave the plants by late summer. (A few kinds along the Front Range even 'head for the hills', spending the cool seasons at high elevations, protected under the snow.) As a result, late season 'blooms of aphids sometimes occur, as they continue to feed and escape their natural enemies.

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Photo by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Twospotted lady beetle eggs.
View in Bugwood Image Database
Twospotted lady beetle eggs.
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Photo by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Two spotted lady beetle larave.
View in Bugwood Image Database
Two spotted lady beetle larave.
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Photo by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org
Lady beetle pupae.
View in Bugwood Image Database
Lady beetle pupae.

The information herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and that listing of commercial products, necessary to this guide, implies no endorsement by the authors or the Extension Services of Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming or Montana. Criticism of products or equipment not listed is neither implied nor intended. Due to constantly changing labels, laws and regulations, the Extension Services can assume no liability for the suggested use of chemicals contained herein. Pesticides must be applied legally complying with all label directions and precautions on the pesticide container and any supplemental labeling and rules of state and federal pesticide regulatory agencies. State rules and regulations and special pesticide use allowances may vary from state to state: contact your State Department of Agriculture for the rules, regulations and allowances applicable in your state and locality.

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