I’ve also written about this is my article on the Ladybug Life Cycle, so if you want more information beyond just mating, then please head over there. However, this is a question often asked, so I thought I’d answer it separately. After all, Ladybugs are important to us!
When Do Ladybugs Mate? Typically during May, but Ladybugs can mate numerous times between Spring and into early Summer. For the Northern Hemisphere, that’s roughly May – July and in the Southern Hemisphere from September to end of November. This is variable depending on weather conditions and temperatures.
It’s not an unusual case for Ladybird Beetles, they copulate and reproduce in much the same way as many beetles and insects, but there are one or two unusual points to mention let’s explore it further.
How Long is a Ladybugs Breeding Season?
The Ladybug Breeding Season begins from around the start of spring and can last up to around two months. From the moment the Ladybird Beetles emerge from their Winter Hibernation, they will look to bolster their food stores and then within a month, reproduction will be on their minds.
The Ladybug Mating Ritual
Once Ladybugs emerge from their Winter hideout, and assuming they’ve survived winter. Then this usually means spring is on it’s way. With that in mind, once fed, they may begin to look for a mate.
The exact courting ritual of Ladybugs is unknown as it has not been extensively researched. If you do find any comprehensive research do let me know. So this leaves us to believe it’s minimal in respect of finding a partner.
In the absence of known research, I’d recommend falling back on what we do know and interpret the rest from what’s commonly known for this kind of process in insects and other animals.
The female Ladybug tends to be slightly larger than the Male Ladybug. But the varieties of ladybugs can vary in size, so it’s not always obvious to know.
What we do know is that courting begins by both the male and the female releasing pheromones, these scents can be picked up from a long way off and are what attract the two together.
It’s likely these pheromones provide information about species type, fertility strength in the female, and the overall genetic strength of the male etc – to use Darwins theory of natural selection. Certainly enough information to enable both parties to determine if the other is a suitable match.
The Male will climb onto the back of the Ladybug, gripping her elytra with his front legs, whilst inserting his ‘aedeagus’ (insect genitals) into her. The mating process, known as copulating, can continue for up to two hours. During this process, the female is still able to move around whilst mating is in process.
Mating Across Species
It’s not uncommon for Ladybugs to have mated with a different species of Ladybug as part of the evolutionary process. However, they have to be able to ‘fit’ together. Most Lady beetles will seek out and mate with their own species of ladybug to maintain their own distinct species type and also because these are the ones they can mate with most successfully.
Ladybugs have what’s known as a ‘lock and key’ system, which means the genitalia, or the male-insect-penis, scientifically called the ‘aedeagus’ fits best with the female of the same variety/species.
Did You Know…
There are 5000+ species of Ladybug, 500 of those can be found in the USA.
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How To Tell If a Ladybug Is Pregnant
You can’t, it’s really that simple. At least not to the casual observer. An Entomologist with a microscope are really what would be required to tell if a Ladybug is pregnant or not. In fact most of the time the female is merely carrying the male sperm rather than using it to produce eggs.
How Long Before Female Ladybugs Lay Eggs
A female can carry the male sperm for around 2-3 months before deciding to use it to fertilize her eggs. This enables her to find the best spot for laying her eggs, under the best cover, with the best environment for available food, and to give them the best chance of survival.
When Do Ladybugs Lay Eggs?
Most Ladybugs will lay eggs in during Late Spring to early Summer when food sources are at their highest level. All laying also depends largely on the right weather conditions and temperatures.
As females can temporarily store male eggs for 2-3 months, this process is a continual one throughout late spring and summer. Meaning you’re likely to find eggs throughout this period.
Where Do Ladybugs Prefer to Lay Eggs?
There are two main factors affecting where Ladybugs lay their eggs. The first being the availability of food. The more abundant the food (mostly near aphids colonies), the greater the chance you will find Ladybird Beetle eggs, as even Ladybug Larvae eat Aphids and similar prey to adults.
The second factor is the shelter in which the eggs are laid. The female will want her eggs to survive away from predators, so you will often find them on the underside of leaves and in other shaded areas away from plain view.
How Many Eggs Do Ladybugs Lay?
Female Ladybugs usually lay eggs in clusters to best ensure the survival of at least one or two. They have been seen in clusters of up to 50 before, but this is very rare
They produce small yellow eggs that are sticky and will glue to surfaces such as the underside of leaves. Once the Larva hatches, it may eat the egg casing left behind, possibly even the other none fertile eggs of laid by the female – known as Trophy Eggs.
Some growth takes place whilst in the female, but they accelerate really quickly in growth once laid. It takes around 4-10 days for the larva to hatch from it’s eggs. A very short time indeed.
Did You Know…
Younger Ladybugs Pause their growth whilst hibernating in Winter!
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In her lifetime, a Ladybug can lay as many as 1000 eggs. Not all will hatch, some may be trophy eggs left as a quick snack for the larvae, some will be eaten by prey. But a good portion will survive.
Do Ladybugs Watch Over Their Eggs?
Ladybugs do not watch over their eggs, in fact, they do not hang around at all. They try to provide the newly laid eggs with the best start in life by laying them near an abundant food source and as far out the way of danger as possible. Beyond that, it’s left to chance that they’re not eaten, and up to the larvae to survive once they’ve hatched.
What Eats Ladybug Eggs?
Most predators that would eat ladybugs would also eat Ladybug eggs, and even Ladybug Larvae. This is why Ladybugs try to lay their eggs out the way of predators and near a food source so the Larva do not need to travel far to get food, the more food they eat in as shorter time as possible, the bigger and stronger they can grow to enable them to move on to the next stage.
I hope this has provided more insight into the mating rituals and egg laying activities of the Ladybug, be sure to check out my other articles and if I’ve missed anything, or if you would like me to cover any Ladybug subjects not already discussed then I’d love to hear in the comments below.
Also, for those Ladybug lovers out there like me, you can find lots of stylish gorgeous and luck related Ladybug gifts and activities in my resource pages. I’ve poured all my best Ladybug knowledge and best purchases over the years into the list so I hope it helps you find something special or something educational for the kids.
Speaking of which, head over to my resources page for Ladybug Breeding Kits. It’s a great way to teach kids and my guide provides more information than the info you get with the kits to make it even more exciting for them!
What Happens to Male Ladybugs After Mating? Not much, once mating has finished the male plays no further part in the process or in deciding where eggs are placed, or even when. The female makes all the decisions from that point on, the Male Ladybug will spend the remainder of their time hunting and trying to mate with more female Ladybugs!