Often thought of as being bright red in color with black spots, there are actually many different types of ladybugs. These different types can vary greatly in appearance. While some can be red, others are yellow or orange. The number of spots can also vary depending on the species. The many types of ladybugs are classified as insects. Part of the Hippodamia Genus, ladybugs belong to the Coccinellidae family
As well as being visually attractive, ladybugs are one of the most useful insects that you could possibly encourage into your garden. A natural predator of aphids, in the United Kingdom these beneficial insects are known as ladybirds or sometimes lady beetles.
There are over 6000 recorded species of ladybirds across the world. Around 150 different ladybirds are resident in the United States. One of the most beneficial insects, as well as predating aphids, the ladybird also predates spider mites, mealybugs, whiteflies and other harmful insects.
If you want to learn more about the different types of ladybugs this article will explain everything you need to know.
While they can be difficult to spot, ladybirds are a valuable addition to the garden.
The Life Cycle of the Ladybug
The average lifespan of the ladybug is 2 to 3 years in the wild. In controlled environments it can be slightly longer. For all types of ladybugs the life cycle comes in 4 stages:
The egg stage comes first. Different types of ladybugs can lay eggs in batches of up to 40. Some species may only lay one batch of eggs while others can lay up to 10 batches of eggs, or around 200 to 300 eggs. This stage lasts throughout the spring and summer months.
Ladybird eggs are usually orange or yellow in color. Most ladybird eggs hatch in 4 to 10 days.
Larvae hatches from the eggs. Typically gray in color, some types of ladybug larvae produce yellow, brown or buff larva. The larvae can also be covered with red, green, blue or yellow spots. As the larva develops it sheds its skin. This happens around 4 times over a 6 week period. During this development period the larva attaches itself to a suitable stem or leaf where it develops into pupa.
The pupal stage lasts for around 2 weeks. One of the least active stages of the life cycle, this is when the metamorphosis process happens.
After the pupal stage, adult ladybirds emerge. Initially bright yellow in color, over the first few hours the more distinctive colors and patterns develop. During these first few hours the wing casing also hardens.
Adult ladybirds can start laying fresh eggs within a week of mating, as long as there is a plentiful supply of food. If food is scarce it can take up to 9 months before any eggs are produced.
Another important part of the life cycle is hibernation. Many types of ladybugs regularly hibernate in large groups each winter. It is not uncommon for the insects to reuse the same hibernation spot year after year.
To help your local ladybirds out, when preparing your garden for winter, avoid cutting back all the stems. Allowing some to remain in place until the spring provides a shelter for many different insects.
Ladybirds tend to hibernate together amongst old twigs and sticks.
Building a bug hotel also provides somewhere for the insects to overwinter. Make sure you include lots of hollow stems or cosy corners. If you don’t have the room for a large bug hotel, you can also purchase Ladybird House Kits. Easy to assemble, and a great project for children, the kits are designed to provide a safe home for all types of ladybugs throughout the winter months.
Why Encourage Ladybugs?
Almost all types of ladybugs are great for keeping aphids at bay. Encouraging them to your garden protects crops without the need to use any potentially harmful insecticides and pesticides. These beneficial insects are particularly effective when working alongside companion planting.
Both beneficial insects and companion planting are particularly effective in vegetable gardens.
Providing The Ideal Habitat
While there are many different types of ladybugs they all tend to favor similar habitats and conditions.
Native to many parts of Europe, North Africa and northern Asia, many types of ladybugs are also common in the United States, Australia, Canada and South Africa. Many of these areas introduced the insects to act as a natural form of pest control.
Most types of ladybugs feed on aphids. The first few larva hatchings have been known to eat the unhatched ladybird eggs. This gives them enough energy to survive until a plentiful supply of aphids are found.
Many types of ladybugs also eat pollen, honeydew, petals, nectar and other soft plant parts if they can’t find enough aphids. All types of ladybugs are omnivorous insects. This means that they can feed on grasslands, includings pastures, fields, gardens and shrubs. Ladybirds favour this sort of foliage more than bushes and trees. Some ladybirds also feed on fungal growth.
While aphids provide the main source of food, pollen can also form part of the ladybird’s diet.
Plants to Encourage Ladybirds
As well as nettles there are a number of plants that most types of ladybugs are attracted to, planting one or a few of these in your garden helps to attract the insects.
Flowers that are rich in pollen, particularly those with flat tops are great. These include:
Popular companion plants such as marigolds, sweet alyssum and calendula are also good choices.
Dill is a particular ladybug favorite.
As well as a decline in their natural habitat, and the use of chemical pesticides, predators have contributed to a decline in ladybug numbers.
Birds, such as swallows and swifts as well as some spiders and beetles eat ladybirds.
Many animals avoid ladybirds, seeing their brightly colored shells as a warning. Ladybirds also taste terrible and bleed a noxious, foul smelling blood like substance from their leg joints when attacked. In some situations, ladybirds have also been observed playing dead, to deter any threats.
Parasites can attack both the pupae and adult insects.
Not all types of ladybugs are beneficial. Some can harm your crops. The Mexican bean beetle, which has an orange body and 8 black spots on each wing cover, targets beanstalks and garden beans. The 7-spotted squash beetle targets squash plants, cantaloupes and pumpkins.
The Mexican bean beetle is particularly destructive.
If food is scarce during the winter months various types of ladybugs can also attack each other. The harlequin ladybird larvae is known to predate other larvae, pupa and eggs. Harlequins are native to Asia but were introduced to Europe as a natural pest control solution. In some areas Harlequins are now starting to outnumber native species. Harlequin ladybirds can be difficult to identify because their appearance can vary greatly. They can be red or orange in color and have anywhere from 2 to 21 spots.
Also known as the Asian Lady Beetle or the Japanese Ladybug, Harlequins have been known to bite larger animals and humans. While their bites, which feel like a small pinprick, rarely cause any problems, the yellow secretion which is left behind can sometimes cause an allergic reaction or trigger an asthma attack. Native ladybirds do not do this.
To prevent Harlequins from entering your home caulk any cracks or crevices around doors, windows and pipes. If they do get into your home, vacuum or hoover them up before sealing any potential entry points to prevent them from returning.
1 Seven Spotted Ladybird
One of Europe’s most commonly spotted types of ladybug, the Seven Spotted Ladybird (Coccinella Septempunctata) or C-7 is bright red in color. It has 3 black spots on each elytra or wing with the final, seventh spot spread over the two wings.
One of the best natural aphid predators, this species is frequently used in grasslands and crop fields as a natural control method against aphids and other pests.
The Seven Spotted Ladybird is a particularly common sight in Europe.
2 Two Spotted Ladybird
The Two Spotted Ladybird (Adalia Bipunctata) is a carnivorous beetle which is found in many parts of Western Europe. Like the Seven Spotted variety it is commonly used as a natural biological control to contain aphid outbreaks. Frequently used in fields and greenhouses these bugs are easily identified by their bright red bodies and two black spots.
3 Thirteen Spotted Ladybird
The Thirteen Spotted Ladybird (Hippodamia Tredecimpunctata) has, when mature, a dome shaped back which can appear oval in shape. It also has antennae and short legs. Red or sometimes orange in color the wings are covered with thirteen black or dark colored spots. While the bodies of the adults are dome shaped, the larvae shells are flatter with small spines.
In contrast to other types of ladybugs that lay eggs in batches of 15 to 30, the Thirteen Spotted Ladybird lays eggs in batches of 10 to 50 on the lower leaves of plants.
4 Asian Ladybird
Also known as the multicolored Asian lady beetle, the Asian ladybird (Harmonia Axyridis) comes in a range of colors from red to yellow, orange or even black. Common in North America these little insects can be identified by the white segment on the top of their head. This often has black markings in the shape of a capital letter M.
Sometimes called the Harlequin ladybird or the Hallowween ladybug, because it often invades homes during the Halloween period in preparation for winter hibernation. In parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom, Asian Ladybirds are starting to threaten and predate native types of ladybugs.
Harlequins can be harmful to native species.
5 Coleomegilla Maculata Ladybird
More commonly known as the Pink Spotted Ladybird this is, as the name suggests a pink ladybird. It can, at times, also appear red. Like many other types of ladybirds, this insect has black spots over its body.
A medium sized ladybug, Coleomegilla Maculata Ladybirds are often elliptical in shape. Both the adults and the larvae are vigorous predators of aphids. They can also be used to control the Colorado potato beetle as well as feeding on other grubs including mites, flies, small larvae and insect eggs. Members of the Coccinellidae family, Pink Spotted Ladybirds eat pollen as well as mites, larvae and eggs. Depending on the environment pollen can comprise up to 50% of the Pink Spotted Ladybirds diet.
6 Hippodamia Convergens Ladybug
One of the most commonly seen types of ladybugs, these are commonly found in gardens and green spaces all over North America. Typically medium sized insects, Hippodamia Convergens Ladybirds have an oval shaped body and can be yellow or orange in color with black spots.
Like other types of ladybugs they are vigorous predators of aphids. Hippodamia Convergens can also predate other insects including whiteflies.
7 California Lady Beetle
The California Ladybug (Coccinella Californica) is unusual because while it has the typical red domed ladybird body it has no black spots. Instead a black line runs down the middle of its back. Its black head can have a white spot on each side.
8 The 22 Spot Ladybug
The 22 spot ladybug (Psyllobora Vigintiduopunctata) commonly eats the mildew which forms on the foliage of shrubs. This sets it apart from other ladybirds that prefer to eat aphids. Bright yellow in color, despite being one of the smaller ladybirds measuring around 5 mm, it has 22 spots spread over its body.
The bright yellow, 22 spot.
9 Cardinal Ladybird
Another one of the smaller types of ladybugs, the Cardinal or Vegalia Ladybug has a black body with deep red spots. This reverses the more common appearance of many other types of ladybugs.
Rarely exceeding 4 mm in length, Cardinal Ladybirds are native to Australia. Feasting on aphids, small mites and scale insects, these useful insects are used to control mite infestations in orchards and amongst fruit trees in many parts of Australia and California.
10 28 Spotted Potato Ladybug
Also known as the Hadda Beetle, the Spotted Potato Ladybug (Henosepilachna Vigintioctopunctata) is a yellow-orange insect. This particular insect is commonly known as the Spotted Potato Ladybug because it feeds on potato crops, often damaging them in the process. The oval body, which is bigger than the head, has 28 black spots, 14 on each wing cover. Native to India, today this species is common in a number of Southern Hemisphere countries.
11 20-spotted Ladybug
The 20 Spotted Ladybug (Psyllobora Vigintimaculata) is a small cream colored ladybird. As the name suggests, on its body are 20 black or brown spots. Rarely exceeding 3 mm in length, this is one of the more difficult types of ladybugs to spot.
Not all varieties are red with black spots.
12 Orange Spotted Ladybird
Sometimes called the Ursine Spurleg Lady Beetle, this particular type has a shiny black oval body with bright orange or yellow spots. Like the 20 Spotted Ladybird this is one of the smallest known types of ladybugs making it difficult to see.
13 Three-Banded Ladybug
The Three-Banded Ladybug or Coccinella trifasciata is unusual because it isn’t spotted. Instead three black bands wrap around its black body. Roughly 4 mm in length this small insect is native to North America.
14 Eye-Spotted Ladybug
The Eye-Spotted Ladybug (Anatis Mali) has distinctive markings on its wing covers that look like small eyes. This helps it to stand out against other ladybirds. Typically red in color, the spots are white with a black center.
Some types of ladybugs have very distinctive markings.
15 Fifteen-Spotted Lady Beetle
Another one of the more distinctive types of ladybugs, the Fifteen-Spotted Lady Beetle (Anatis Labiculata) has a dark purple or white body. Its oval shaped body has black markings on each of its wing covers. One of the larger types of ladybugs, these can measure between 7 and 9 mm in length.
Ladybirds can benefit your garden in a number of ways.
A popular garden insect in some cultures people believe that if a ladybird lands on you the number of spots it has foretells how many children you will have. In other cultures, farmers believe that ladybugs with less than 7 spots is a sign that the next harvest will be good. Whatever you believe it is easy to see why these are such beneficial insects.