Ladybugs, also known as lady beetles, ladybirds or coccinellids, are considered beneficial insects because they feast on aphids. They have adapted to live in many parts of the world and have even found their way into folklore and childrens' rhymes. Ladybugs are sexually reproducing insects. In her lifetime, a female ladybug may lay up to 300 eggs.
During its life cycle, the ladybug goes through complete metamorphosis. The eggs hatch into larvae that are dark bluish in color with orange dots. Larvae's bodies are covered with tiny spines, and they look like miniature crocodiles. They feed on aphids, turn into pupae and emerge as adults
Like other insects, the reproductive organs of female ladybugs consist of a set of paired ovaries that produce eggs and are contained in the abdomen. Males have a set of testes that produce sperm and an aedeagus, the insect equivalent of a penis.
Much of the ladybug's adult life is spent hibernating. Ladybugs emerge in the spring to mate and lay eggs. During mating the male climbs on top of the female and attaches himself to her. Using his aedeagus, he fertilizes her internally and within 10 days the female can start to lay eggs. If there are no aphids around, the ladybug can delay laying her eggs for several months to give her young a better chance of survival.
- Photo Credit ladybug image by martin schmid from Fotolia.com
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