Natural Enemies Gallery

Sevenspotted Lady Beetle

Hosts or Prey

Soft-bodied insects including leaf beetle larvae, mealybugs, psyllids, whiteflies, and especially aphids

Identification

The adult (also called a ladybug or ladybird beetle) is dome shaped (convex) on top, flat on the bottom, and round when viewed from above. The hard, shiny body is relatively large, almost 1/3 inch (8 mm) long and about 1/6 inch (4 mm) wide. The head and thorax are black; both have 2 well-separated, white blotches, one on each side. The wing covers are orange or reddish with 7 black spots and white along the front margin, adjacent to the front, central, black spot.

Eggs are spindle shaped, orange or yellowish, and about 1/25 inch (1 mm) long. They are laid on leaves or green stems, upright on their end and in clusters of about 10 to 30 eggs.

Larvae develop through 4 increasingly larger instars and grow up to 1/3 inch (8 mm) long. They resemble tiny alligators and are blackish, dark brown, or dark gray with orange or yellowish spots.

Pupae are 1/4 inch (6 mm) long and glued to plant parts near where they fed as larvae. They are initially orange, but increasingly develop black blotches prior to adult emergence.

Lookalikes

Many aphid-feeding lady beetles are orangish with black spots. Positive identification requires expert dissection and examination of male genitalia. The seven black spots on the wing covers and two white blotches on the front of the wing covers and sides of the head and thorax (six pale blotches overall) generally discriminate this species from other common lady beetles in California.

Life Cycle

Lady beetles develop through 4 life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adult female lays about 200 to 300 eggs during her growing-season lifespan of about two months. After hatching, larvae develop through four increasingly larger instars.

Reproduction stops when day length shortens. The species overwinters mostly as adults in protected places.

Egg to adult development time is about 6 weeks during the growing season. Sevenspotted lady beetle can have up to 5 generations per year.

Habitat

Sevenspotted lady beetle can be found in almost any habitat where plants are infested with aphids. Adults are good fliers and throughout the growing season readily migrate between plants and locations.

Young lady beetle larvae usually pierce and suck the contents from their prey. Older larvae and adults chew prey and can consume the entire insect.

Species

About 150 species of lady beetles occur in California. These include at least 12 Coccinella species of which the sevenspotted lady beetle may be the most common.

More Information

Scientific classification:

  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Coleoptera
  • Family: Coccinellidae
Adult sevenspotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata.
Adult sevenspotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata. Credit: Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM Program
Adult sevenspotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata.
Adult sevenspotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata. Credit: David Rosen
Larva of sevenspotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata, eating an aphid.
Larva of sevenspotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata, eating an aphid. Credit: Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM Program
Appearance and relative size of last instar and adult sevenspotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata.
Appearance and relative size of last instar and adult sevenspotted lady beetle, Coccinella septempunctata. Credit: see large image