Seven-Spot Ladybug Fact File
Wild 4 months
(At adult stage)
The seven-spot ladybug is among the world’s most commonly recognized species of invertebrate. Covering the back are the bright red elytra which as their name suggests is patterned with seven black spots.
Ladybugs are considered carnivores and almost exclusively feed on aphids.
Originally this species was found across Europe and Asia but their role as a natural control for aphids saw them introduced to North America.
Female deposit up to 1000 eggs in their lifetime which progress through being a larva and pupa before emerging as an adult.
Learn more about these incredible invertebrates below.
The seven spot ladybug is among the world’s most recognizable insects. They have an abdomen which is colored bright red with black spots patterning it. As their name suggests there are seven black spots arranged in a symmetrical pattern.
Their head is colored black with a white spot which sits either side of the head next to the eyes.
On either side of the body is three black legs. Each ends with a small claw. As an insect their body is divided in to three body segments, the head, thorax and abdomen.
An average seven-spot ladybug will measure 8mm (0.5in) long.
The seven-spot ladybug is a carnivore which feeds almost exclusively on aphids. Some other small insects may also be consumed though. Each day they can consume dozens of individuals aphids.
Seven-spot ladybugs were originally native to temperate areas of Europe, Asia and North Africa.
Their ability to act as a biological control has seen them introduced to North America. This population is thought to have established first in New Jersey. They can now be found across the US and Canada having spread far from their original release sites.
Introduced populations have also formed in parts of the Middle East and India.
These animals make their home in woods, marshes, grassland, parks and gardens. They are able to feed on a wide range of plants. In Britain they have been found on 250 species of plants.
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Breeding takes place starting in May. During the breeding season the male and female will mate with multiple partners. Females which have recently mated or immature individuals will resist the advances of a male.
From June to July the females will lay their eggs in bundles on leaves. In some situations they will lay up to 1000 eggs though this is rare. This produces more young than which the environment can support outside of years where aphids are in abundance.
Other insects such as lacewings will feed on ladybug eggs.
On average an egg will hatch after 4 days but this can be extended by lower temperatures or shortened by higher temperatures.
The larvae are colored brownish-grey and have bright orange splotches on the body.
These larvae begin life by first feeding on their own egg shell and then that of any infertile eggs in the clutch. They then move to feeding on aphids as they will as adults.
After living as a larvae they will enter a pupal stage in which they remain for 8.4 days.
Young receive no care from their adults.
Sexual maturity is reached 10 to 14 days after they emerge as an adult.
During winter the seven-spot ladybug will undertake a period of hibernation in vegetation and hollow plant stems.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the seven-spot ladybug are birds, spiders or large beetles.
Ants will defend the food source of the seven-spot ladybug, aphids, against attack as they farm aphids which produce a sugary secretion which the ants can feed on.
Their coloration acts as a warning to predators that they are partially toxic and this stops many animals from feeding on them.
Humans make use of the seven-spot ladybug to consume aphids which are seen as a pest.
They are also known as the seven-spot ladybird.
Ladybugs were previously viewed as a good painkiller and were used in an attempt to cure toothaches.
Trachemys, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Photographer: Dominik Stodulski Graphic Processing: User:MathKnight, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Alvesgaspar, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Quartl, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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