Ladybirds are nature’s pest controllers. Many ladybirds eat aphids such as blackfly and greenfly, but their larvae are also keen predators, with some eating up to 100 aphids a day.
After mating, female ladybirds lay eggs on or near clusters of aphids. The eggs hatch into larvae and these start eating aphids straight away. They feed for around three weeks before pupating into an adult ladybird.
More on ladybirds:
- How to make a ladybird and lacewing lair
- What can I do about harlequin ladybirds?
- 10 gardening projects for kids
Adult ladybirds are instantly recognisable – but what about their larvae? Find out more about the different types of ladybird larvae, below.
Harlequin ladybird larvae (Harmonia axyridis)
Harlequin ladybird larvae is black and spiny with strong orange, upside down L-shaped marks on each side and four small orange spots. It’s found on all plants where aphids are present, but seems to prefer lime and sycamore trees. 18mm long.
Orange ladybird larvae (Halyzia sedecimguttata)
While most ladybirds and their larvae eat aphids, some feed on mildew on leaves. Orange ladybird larvae is a dirty cream colour, streaked with primrose yellow and marked with a regular display of black spots. It grazes on the mildew from leaves, especially those on sycamore trees. 15mm long.
22-spot ladybird larvae (Pysllobora vigintiduopunctata)
This bright lemon yellow ladybird larvae is marked with a regular array of black spots that rarely join up. It’s head and legs are black. like orange ladybird larvae, it feeds on mildew on leaves and is found among low-growing vegetation in grassy places, such as foxglove, hogweed and ragwort. 11m long.
Pine ladybird larvae (Exochomus quadripunctatus)
Pine ladybird larvae is a dull, purplish grey with a pale black line, marked by grey smudges. Tail segments have a spiny crest. Found in broadleaf and pine trunks. Eats scale insects and woolly aphids. 7.5mm long.
Seven-spot ladybird larvae (Coccinella septempunctata)
Seven-spot ladybird larvae is mid grey with a regular alignment of black bobbles. The first thoracic segment is a yellowish orange marked with black, while the first and fourth abdominal segments have two orange marks at the sides. Found on almost all plants, eating aphids. 13mm long.
Ten-spot ladybird larvae (Adalia decempunctata)
Ten-spot ladybird larvae is pale grey, but marked with black, giving the effect of having marked tail segments. They have two orange spots at the sides of the first abdominal segment and a central orange spot on the fourth. A tree and hedgerow aphid predator. 8mm long.
Two-spot ladybird larvae (Adalia bipunctata)
Two-spot ladybird larvae is dark grey and marked with black nodules. More spotty-looking than the ten-spot, it has orange flecks at the sides of first abdominal segment and a central orange bar on the middle of the fourth abdomen segment. Common in urban gardens and eats aphids. 8mm long.
Adonis ladybird larvae (Hippodamia variegata)
Adonis ladybird larvae is greyish brown. It has orange-marked thoracid segments, with the first abdominal segment marked orange at the sides. Mainly found in coastal regions, in warm, dry situations, but also seen in chalk pits, urban brownfield sites and derelict gardens. Eats aphids. 9mm long.
14-spot ladybird larvae (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata)
This ladybird larvae is dark grey with creamy white markings. An aphid feeder, it’s found in low vegetation in grassy places. 7.5mm long.
Many thanks to Chris Shields for providing the beautiful illustrations used in this feature.