Ladybugs might not look the part of the predator as adults, but they certainly do as larvae. Is there any other creature that goes from looking so fierce to so cute as it ages?
After finding a ladybug pupa attached to a leaf on one of our daisies, I checked it every day while taking Ellie out for her walk. One day I noticed the pupal shell looking a bit dried out and the reason slowly dawned on me. I grabbed Ellie’s floppy ears and shouted “My ladybug hatched! My ladybug hatched!”
Ellie didn’t share my excitement since this involved neither food nor hedgehogs, but I got even more excited when I realized the newly minted ladybug was on the other side of the leaf, waiting for its wings to dry. I decided to hold off on pictures and took Ellie on her full walk, which in hindsight was pretty risky, but it all worked out. The ladybug was still there when we got back and I ran inside to get the camera and took, oh, let’s just say a few pictures.
When I got up to let our cat Emma back inside, I returned to find the leaf empty. Our yard’s newest predator had taken flight, but not before I got some nice pictures. In this one, the ladybug on the left waits with wings outstretched to dry. On the right is the orange and black shell from which it just emerged.
I’ve been bitten by the ladybug bug this year and am constantly on the lookout for the little beetles in their various states in our backyard. Yesterday I counted four more ladybug pupa on the plants near this daisy, and also got some pictures of one of the ladybug larva.
Ladybugs go through several stages before they become adults. They hatch from eggs into the larval stage, where they look more like miniature alligators than cute little ladybugs. After a couple of weeks they enter the pupal stage shown here, where the larva sticks itself onto a plant and the skin splits and protects the pupa underneath. During the next week or so the pupa metamorphoses into an adult and finally emerges as the familiar little beetle we all know and love.
This particular ladybug is a multicolored Asian lady beetle, which is not native to the United States. Ohio State’s extension office has a nice writeup on this (often deliberately) introduced little predator.