Usually my photos are grouped by date, but in this case I've made an exception in order to give a full spectrum of lady bug development.

lady bug eggs

We begin, like life, at the beginning. But was it with a chicken, or eggs? Eggs, of course.

hatching lady bugs

Nearly-developed buggies. Unfortunately, the leaf that the eggs were on fell on the ground, and many of the babies were damaged in the process. The white ones may be more immature or they may be the result of unfertilized lady bug eggs, which apparently help provide food for the newly-hatched youngsters.

baby lady

At least one made it, though! This little one has just shed his skin to become the next size up. That's a five-eurocent piece on the left: approximately the size of a US penny. I think baby lady bugs are about the neatest-looking critter in the yard.

baby lady shedding

This year, I noticed this little lady with unusual light coloring. The lady is the one on the right, to the left is the discarded skin of an aphid. In the photo you could see that the reason for the lady's light color is that it had just shed its skin. You can still see the old skin unfurling from around its tail.

newly hatched ladies

A lady family from 2010, with empty egg shells.

bigger baby lady

Another year, another bug. This one is about as big as they get.

stuck lady

After that, they stick their tails down to a leaf. They are quite vulnerable at this stage. I found this one being knawed on by one of its breatheren! I pulled off the not-so-nice ladybug and gave it its own plant.

lady with prey

I figured it must be hungry to attack one of its own kind. So I put it on a leaf near some proper lady bug food: aphids.

closer lady

A close up of the cannibal.


A close up of dinner.

lady eating aphid

Sure enough, about 10 minutes later I went looking for him and found him on the underside of a leaf, making short work of one of the aphids.

lady eating aphid

... and I do mean short. About 5 minutes later the aphid was nearly gone. One ladybug can eat 5000 aphids in its lifetime.

spiky lady

Meanwhile, the other bug seems to have recovered. I really like the way this photo shows the spikes.

lady pupa

I placed the leaf in easy view, in hopes of getting some pictures of the ladybug pupating. At noon today I had to leave for school, so I checked on the ladybug. Sure enough, it was still a spiky little larva, stuck to its leaf. At 4:00 I came home from school to check on it again, and found that it was completely encased in its pupa! These little guys do everything fast. I'm keeping a close eye on my other babies, though, in hopes of catching one of them in the act.

lady pupa

Despite its resemblence to the adult, this hard shell is just the pupa. A fresh new adult ladybug will hatch out of this in a few days. I have no idea what happens inside, though. It will be interesting to see if the injured one recovers its missing legs in the process.

lady pupa

The only hint is that the spikes all seem to get crammed down to the end that's stuck to the leaf. The ladybug is still aware at this stage. When it gets too warm it will raise the free end up off the leaf to air out a bit.

lady pupa

Unlike the babies, though, the markings are different on the pupae. You can tell one individual from another.

hatched lady

Shortly, the pupa will be left behind. Newly-hatched ladybugs do not have spots - the spots start to show as they dry out.

black and red lady

I got lucky with my babies - they hatched into a variety of colors. That means they are probably japanese ladybugs rather than the native European type, but all are good against aphids. This is the one that hatched from the pupa in dscn0391 above.

red and black lady

This is one of the more traditional red and black, in a head-on view.

red and black lady

The same ladybug, next to its pupa. This is the same pupa as shown in DSCN0345 above.

red and black lady

This one, however, is a different ladybug. The pattern of spots is very similar, but there is much more black on this one's head.

orange and white lady

This one, however, is clearly different. Its spots aren't just pale, they're white. It is from the pupa shown in DSCN0349 above.

orange and white lady

A good view of the wings, which are still drying.

orange and white lady

A head-on view of the orange bug.

red and black lady

The last of my ladybugs to hatch before I left on vacation. Only Hannibal was left, once again defying conventional behavior by pupating on the fence rather than on a leaf.

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