Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Documenting Ladybugs

Over the past several weeks, Alexandra and I have been documenting our ladybugs almost daily. We've never seen anything like this!

It started in early May with quite a few larva on our spa. They were eating some kind of bug, which I've since determined were wooly aphids that are probably on my neighbor's jasmine. Anyway, about a week or so later, we discovered more larva and pupa on our chimnea. And, last week we discovered even more on the grill and pool equipment. One day last week, we counted over 50 ladybugs between the larva, pupa, and adults!

So, we've been documenting the life cycles of of our ladybugs and I have taken HUNDREDS of photos. I still haven't waded through all of the photos, but I'd like to share some of our photos with you all. Enjoy!
LARVAL STAGE - A ladybug larva molts 3 times thus it goes through 4 instars. I would like to learn to identify each stage (there is a definite size difference, but they also just appear different.) And, I would LOVE to be able to identify what type of ladybug (or ladybird beetle) each larva will be as an adult. If anyone has a resource, I'd love to know!
Here's a fairly late instar.
And, you can see this larva looks quite different.
Above this larva, you can see 2 wooly aphids. It was actually pretty amazing to watch these little guys eat -they are good hunters and eat a lot!

Here's a great shot of a larva starting to pupate. I love how you can see the legs folded under.
Here's a pupa.
And another one. Do you see how different they look? I like that this one looks like it is cracking, but it stayed like that for days.

And, even another one. Can you see the little spiky "things" that it is attached to the wall with? They're pretty strong.

And another one. I would also like to figure out what type of ladybug would emerge from each pupa. If I get another chance with ladybugs, I'll mark each pupa (put a sticker next to it) and wait to see what emerges - they usually come out in the morning, so I don't think it'd be too hard.

Here's a newly emerged ladybug!

And another one. This one was really tiny! I still haven't quite figured out if ladybugs just get their spots later on. Does anyone know? Most of the ones we find early in the morning are spotless or have very faint spots.

And another. I need to identify all of these. :-)
Like I said, I actually have hundreds of photos, but I will only share a few more sometime soon. I did find my first GRAY ladybug and that was a real treat!


live4evermom said...

I remember reading somewhere that they don't have spots but develop them after a little while. We read up on this last year or year before when we had a ton fly by our house. I did find this...http://www.insecta-inspecta.com/beetles/ladybug/

Loved all your pictures.

Rhonda said...

These photos are amazing. Unfortunately I do not know much about ladybugs, except for the fact that my youngest daughter loves to watch them crawl on her hands and arms and giggles because they tickle her. Thank you so much for sharing this and I hope that you find all of the info that you are looking for on them.

Robin said...

Unbelievably awesome pictures! Goodness! The patience that must have taken to get such wonderful shots. I think it's so cool that you have been able to get the whole process in photos.
I can't wait to see more pictures.

Teacher of One said...


Dana said...

WOW! It's so neat that you've been able to watch this whole process right in your backyard. You've got some great pictures! I'm inspired to hunt for some in my own backyard.

John's Arts & Crafts said...

Great Project! I have found the Colleges to be a big help with ID of these different species.
The adults Ladybugs and some of larva molts look to me like it is the Convergent Ladybeetle.
Scientific name: Hippodamia convergens
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Family: Coccinellidae
Common prey: Predaceous on aphids and occasionally other soft-bodied homopterans.
One larva might have yellow parasites mites which feed of the larva, riding on their backs.

Alycia in Va. said...

I've never seen that transformation before, thanks for sharing!

Kris said...

This is a fabulous nature study. What a great collection of pictures! This is one to share with the kids.

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