Ladybugs in Autumn
A Bug By Any Other Name…
This cute little beetle goes by many names, the lady beetles, ladybugs, lady cows, and even ladybird. Although many of these names refer to them as “bugs,” lady bugs are actually members of the family Coccinellidae under the order Coleoptera (beetles), not Hemiptera (bugs).
These different names are used fairly interchangeably and most often refer to the Coccinella septumpunctata (the European lady beetle), however, it has been extended to describe several different Coccinellidae sub-species. All of these subspecies have brightly colored rounded bodies. This shape and color of their bodies is due to their elytra, the shell-like wing cases covering their backs.
Most of these beetles are red with black spots, although some have more of an orange hue and a few rarer subspecies are actually the opposite – black with reddish-orange spots.
Helpful Little Beetles
These cute little beetles are particularly prevalent during the Autumn months. It’s at this time they abandon their feeding areas and search for shelter and warmth for the coming Winter. They are typically considered very beneficial bugs to have around. They pose no danger to humans nor do they pose a threat of destruction to homes. In fact, they are known for consuming other problematic pests that can be destructive to homes and gardens such as aphids, mites, and other insect larvae.
While they overwhelmingly beneficial, they tend to travel and congregate in large groups and when they find their ways into homes, which can be quite a nuisance.
Life Cycles and Daily Activity
Lady bugs tend to hang out in gardens and will lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves for protection. In just between 1 to 3 months a female can lay up to 1,000 eggs. Eggs are typically laid around spring and summer, leading to the influx in the adult population by Autumn.
Once they hatch, the ladybugs go through 4 larval stages known as instars while remaining within a small radius of space where their main food source is. During this time, they look very different from their adult forms. Their bodies are long and segmented, resembling what looks like a cross between a mini alligator and a caterpillar. The larvae then pass through a pupal stage where they adopt the more rounded shape of their adult stage. Following this stage, they metamorphize to their final adult stage.
Adult ladybugs can live from a few months to over a year long depending on the subspecies and the state of the environment they are in. Overall, these beetles can live from 1-3 years from their egg stage all the way through adulthood. The rate at which they progress oddly can be determined by the diet of the subspecies. For example, ladybugs tend to develop more rapidly and grow to a larger size when they feed on aphids, while those that feed on scale insects develop at a more gradual rate, have a smaller overall size, and can live longer.
If these little scarlet beetles find their way into your home this Autumn, give us a call and we can help form a plan to not only rid your current infestation, but avoid it in the future. Our aim is to always prevent them from ever finding their way inside your home so that they can remain in your yards, helping protect your plants and adding some beautiful bright colors to the world.
Frank, J. and Mizell, R. (2014) Ladybirds, Lady Beetles, Ladybugs (Insecta: Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), The University of Florida Department of Entomology and Nematology. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Available at: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/beneficial/lady_beetles.htm (Accessed: October 2020).
Lady Beetles (no date) Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Available at: https://biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/predators/ladybeetles.php (Accessed: October 2020).
Ladybird (no date) Amateur Entomologists’ Society. Available at: https://www.amentsoc.org/insects/glossary/terms/ladybird (Accessed: October 2020).
Potter, M., Bessin, R. and Townsend, L. (2005) Asian Lady Beetle Infestation of Structures, The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. The Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky. Available at: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef416 (Accessed: October 2020).