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Ladybug (Coccinellidae)


Family Coccinellidae

(Order Coleoptera; multiple subfamilies)


Adult Coccinellid beetle,

Adult Diagnosis: Coccinellids are small beetles from 1 to 10 millimeters in length, easily recognizable by the bright, aposematically-colored elytra ranging from yellow-orange to deep scarlet and dotted with a varying number of black spots. The rest of the body is usually a shiny black making the beetle look very polished. Though the familiar form is bright red with black spots, some adults in this family are primarily brown or black

Adult/Larval Natural History: Coccinellid beetles are holometabolous, going through the life stages of egg, larva, pupa and adult. Larvae look very different from the adult and seen side-by-side most people believe they are unrelated (they have been described as looking like "tiny alligators"). The larvae retain the same general color scheme as the adults however.

From spring to summer ladybugs may lay one hundred to one thousand yellow eggs, which will hatch in four days. The larvae remain in this stage two to three weeks during which time they grow in length and have molted multiple times. When the larva is mature it will attach to a leaf to pupate and emerges as an adult in a week to ten days. It will take a couple of hours for the adult's body to harden and for the mature coloration to set in. As an adult a ladybug can expect to live up to nine months. They will overwinter in large groups in any dry, warm place.

Ladybugs not only appear toxic, but many actually do secrete some toxins as well. They can release toxic and bad smelling fluid from leg joints to deter predators. Other species mimic the toxic species.

Top: Yellow, clustered eggs being layed by a Coccinellid beetle.

Bottom: Larva typical of Coccinellid beetles.

Pupa typical of Coccinellid beetles,

Distribution: These beetles are widely distributed across Kansas and North America with over 450 species present on the continent. They are also widely distributed around the world with over 5,000 described species.

Map of world-wide Coccinellidae distribution:[0].s=20&c[0].p=0&c[0].o=7782


Habitat: Ladybugs inhabit diverse terrestrial habitats dependening on their dietary preference.

Diet: Both adults and larvae eat a primarily carnivorous diet of aphids, mites, and other small, soft-bodied insects. They have a great appetite for plant pests making many species popular among gardeners. A few species eat a diet of leaves or fungi and mildew and some are completely vegetarian.

Ladybug feeding on aphids.

Conservation Status: Stable, although some species may be being out-competed by introduced species used for agricultural purposes.





Info on different species:

Ladybug conservation:


Natural History Museum Ladybug Project:


Weeden, C.R., A. M. Shelton, and M. P. Hoffman. Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America.

Acorn, J. 2007. Ladybugs of Alberta: Finding the Spots and Connecting the Dots. University of Alberta Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

White, R.E, and Peterson, R.T. 1983. Beetles: A Field Guide to the Beetles of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York.

Submitted by: Jenny Bowen, November 2011

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
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