Learn about one of the world’s favorite bugs with our free Life Cycle of a Ladybug Craft and nature study
Every spring our porch is wild with ladybugs! The girls have a great time seeing their friend ‘Gaston’ after his long winter slumber. The ladybug (or ladybird depending on where you’re from) is one of the world’s most beloved and beneficial insects. Found on every continent except Antarctica, these gentle creatures are a great first nature study for children who may be cautious around our 6 legged neighbours. Join us as we learn about the cutest bug around with this free life cycle of a ladybug study and ladybug spinner craft.
What are Ladybugs?
Ladybugs are invertebrates (no backbone!) and classified into the Insecta (insects) class, Coccinellidae family, Hippodamia Genus and convergens species. There are about 6,000 sub-species of ladybugs in the world. Many of these beetles are red with black spots, but others are yellow or orange, and can you believe some don’t even have spots? The most familiar species for those of us who live in North America is the seven-spotted ladybug with its shiny red body and 7 black spots on its back (3 spots on each elytra and 1 spot at the top crossing both).
The Life Cycle of a Ladybug
Like butterflies, ladybugs go through a complete metamorphosis. This means they look different in each stage of their growth. Their life cycle includes four stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult.
Stage 1 – Egg
First, the ladybug lays a cluster of between 5 to 30 eggs on the underside of a leaf. She looks for a plant that has lots of aphids for the young larvae to start eating after they hatch. Ladybugs lay both fertile and unfertile eggs in each cluster. If aphids are limited the larvae will consume the unfertile eggs.
Stage 2 – Larva
Eggs hatch 3-12 days later. The larva look like little alligators with long, black, and spiky bodies. Many species also have orange markings along their back. They certainly look different than their cute adult counterparts! As the larvae continue to eat, they grow until they get so big they break out of their soft skin (a new skin is underneath) and molt. They will often molt 4 times before entering the pupa stage.
Stage 3 – Pupa
When the larva is ready it will attach itself to the leaf and shed one last time into a pupa form. Ladybug pupae are orange with black markings. They will rest as a pupa between 7-15 days. During this time special cells called histoblasts lead a biochemical process that transforms the larva into its adult form.
Stage 4 – Newly Emerged Adult
Ladybugs have soft, pale, pink or yellow shells when they first emerge. Over the next few hours, their shell will begin to harden and turn the deep red color with black spots we all know and love.
Free Life Cycle of a Ladybug Craft
what you need:
- Free Ladybug Life Cycle Spinner template
- split pins
- glue, markers
what you do:
Encourage your children to tell the story of a ladybug’s life cycle with this spinner craft. Cut out each template, life stage circle, and all the black spots. Help your child match and glue the life stage circles onto the labeled base of your spinner. Attach the top and bottom in the center with a split pin. Decorate your ladybug with the black spots and try to answer the ladybug fact questions!
Sign up for our Books and Willows Newsletter at the end of this post to download your FREE Ladybug Life Cycle Spinner template along with our FREE Life Cycle of a Ladybug Nature Study Guide. You’ll find the link to our subscriber page with all our FREE learning resources in your Welcome Email.
Ladybug Looking Glass Nature Study
Learn more about ladybugs in our Ladybug Looking Glass Nature Study. Inspired by Charlotte Mason, you’ll find us chasing our curiosities through our read-aloud, nature adventures, and big conversations. This Looking Glass Nature Study includes six open-and-go lesson areas to engage literature, science, outdoor studies, and the arts, filled with hands-on exploration. Check out the listing in our shop to explore.
Enjoy your ladybug study!