BioKIDS home

Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species

Calvia quatuordecimguttata

What do they look like?

Calvia quatuordecimguttata, the cream-spotted lady beetle, has a oval shaped body, and is 3.5 to 5.5 mm long. These beetles are polymorphic, in this case meaning that despite being the same species, they can have different colors and patterns on their elytra, which cover their wings. In North America, C. quatuordecimguttata has three different patterns: black with 14 white spots, black with 2 or 4 red spots, and orange with 12 black spots. In other areas, C. quatuordecimguttata is maroon-brown in color. (Eaton and Kaufman, 2007; Gordon, 1985; Lamana and Miller, 1995)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range length
    3.5 to 5.5 mm
    0.14 to 0.22 in

Where do they live?

Calvia quatuordecimguttata is native to northern North America, northern Europe, and western and central Asia. In North America, this range extends from northern California to Alaska on the west coast and from New Jersey to northern Canada on the east coast. Calvia quatuordecimguttata is the only species of the genus Calvia that is found in North American. (Gordon, 1985; Lamana and Miller, 1995)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Calvia quatuordecimguttata is found in forests of deciduous trees and shrubs. This species also lives amongst flowering plants that are present in dry grassland. It can also be found on agricultural land, living on crops. (Gordon, 1985; Taylor and Francis, 1966)

How do they grow?

Calvia quatuordecimguttata goes through complete metamorphosis, with a life cycle consisting of egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages. Eggs are laid in the early spring by adults that were in hiding over the winter (overwintering). After larvae emerge and then pupate, adults live for a few weeks in the summer until the weather cools, when the adults that are still alive overwinter. Adults of C. quatuordecimguttata cannot mate and reproduce until after emerging in the spring. Development of C. quatuordecimguttata is effected by temperature, with beetles that develop at lower temperatures reaching a greater size. The time of development from egg to adult also depends on temperature, taking about 14 days at 30 degrees Celsius, while taking up to 115 days at lower temperatures (10 degrees Celsius). (Gordon, 1985; Kalushkov and Hodek, 2001; Lamana and Miller, 1995; Webberley, et al., 2004)

How do they reproduce?

There is little to no information available on this topic for Calvia quatuordecimguttata. It is known that both male and female cream-spotted lady beetles can have multiple mates. (Eaton and Kaufman, 2007)

There is little to no information available on this topic for Calvia quatuordecimguttata.

After laying eggs, adults do not provide any more care for their offspring. Additionally, the eggs of C. quatuordecimguttata are coated with a chemical that protects the eggs from attacks by Harmonia axyridis, another species of lady beetle. (Ware, et al., 2008)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female

How long do they live?

Eggs of C. quatuordecimguttata are laid in the spring, as early as March. The time of development from egg to adult depends on temperature, taking about 14 days at warmer temperatures, while taking up to 115 days at lower temperatures. Adults live for several more weeks or months through the summer, until temperatures cool in the fall and adults overwinter, emerging again the following spring. (Gordon, 1985; Lamana and Miller, 1995)

How do they behave?

There is little information available on this topic for Calvia quatuordecimguttata. The cream-spotted lady beetle can fly, and is mainly a solitary species.

How do they communicate with each other?

Related lady beetle species use sight and detect chemicals to find prey and mates, and this is likely true for C. quatuordecimguttata as well.

What do they eat?

Calvia quatuordecimguttata are insectivores. They eat psyllids and aphids, which are small insects that feed on plants, often crops. Feeding on psyllids seems to cause faster larval development, especially Cacopsylla mali. Six aphid species have been identified as food for C. quatuordecimguttata: Chaitophorus tremulae, Cavariella konoi, Aphis farinosa, Eucalipterus tiliae, Euceraphis betulae, and Macrosiphoniella artemisiae. (Gordon, 1985; Kalushkov and Hodek, 2001)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Other species of lady beetle often eat the eggs of Calvia quatuordecimguttata. Harmonia axyridis is an invasive lady beetle that is known to eat the eggs of many other lady beetles. Calvia quatuordecimguttata is well protected against the attack of Harmonia axyridis due to a substance on the outer surface of its eggs. There are also patches of a red substance that coat the eggs, which is believed to be a type of acid, which would also protect the eggs from predator attacks. Cannibalism also occurs in this species, with adults and older larvae sometimes eating eggs and larvae of its own species. Like other lady beetles (Coccinellidae), C. quatuordecimguttata can likely bleed toxic chemicals out of its joints when it is threatened by a predator. The different colors and elytral patterns of this species are a warning signal to predators. Predators know that brightly colored beetles are often poisonous, so the bright colors of C. quatuordecimguttata make predators less likely to eat it. (Gordon, 1985; Ware, et al., 2008)

  • These animal colors help protect them
  • aposematic

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Calvia quatuordecimguttata is a predator of many species of aphids and psyllids. It can be prey to other species of lady beetle. Coccipolipus hippodamiae is a parasitic mite that lives under the elytra of Calvia quatuordecimguttata. When males and females mate, the mites can move from one beetle to another. (Kalushkov and Hodek, 2001; Webberley, et al., 2004)

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host
  • Coccipolipus hippodamiae

Do they cause problems?

There are no known negative affects of Calvia quatuordecimguttata on humans.

How do they interact with us?

Aphids and psyllids, which eat plants, can often do damage to many crops that people grow. Since Calvia quatuordecimguttata eats these insects, it can control the size of these insect populations and keep crops from being damaged. (Kalushkov and Hodek, 2001; Semyanov, 1996; Kalushkov and Hodek, 2001; Semyanov, 1996)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • controls pest population

Are they endangered?

Calvia quatuordecimguttata is not an endangered species.


Deeana Ijaz (author), University of Michigan Biological Station, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.


having colors that act to protect the animal, often from predators. For example: animals that are bright red or yellow are often toxic or distasteful, their colors discourage predators from eating them.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


a period of time when growth or development is suspended in insects and other invertebrates, it can usually only be ended the appropriate environmental stimulus.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


animals that have little or no ability to regulate their body temperature, body temperatures fluctuate with the temperature of their environment, often referred to as 'cold-blooded'.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which bodily functions slow down, reducing their energy requirements so that they can live through a season with little food.


World Map

Found in northern North America and northern Europe or Asia.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


an animal which has a substance capable of killing, injuring, or impairing other animals through its chemical action (for example, the skin of poison dart frogs).


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


"many forms." A species is polymorphic if its individuals can be divided into two or more easily recognized groups, based on structure, color, or other similar characteristics. The term only applies when the distinct groups can be found in the same area; graded or clinal variation throughout the range of a species (e.g. a north-to-south decrease in size) is not polymorphism. Polymorphic characteristics may be inherited because the differences have a genetic basis, or they may be the result of environmental influences. We do not consider sexual differences (i.e. sexual dimorphism), seasonal changes (e.g. change in fur color), or age-related changes to be polymorphic. Polymorphism in a local population can be an adaptation to prevent density-dependent predation, where predators preferentially prey on the most common morph.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.

tropical savanna and grassland

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

uses sight to communicate


Eaton, E., K. Kaufman. 2007. Kaufman field guide to insects. Boston, Massachusettes: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Gordon, R. 1985. The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of America north of Mexico. Journal of the New York Entomological Society, 93: 1-912.

Kalushkov, P., I. Hodek. 2001. New essential aphid prey for Anatis ocellata and Calvia quatuordecimguttata. Biocontrol Science and Technology, 11: 35-39.

Lamana, M., J. Miller. 1995. Temperature-Dependent Development in a Polymorphic Lady Beetle, Calvia quatuordecimguttata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 88/6: 785-790.

Semyanov, V. 1996. Lady beetles (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) of Leningrad region orchards (fauna, biology and their role in pest population dynamics). IOBC/WPRS and ISHS International Conference on Integrated Fruit Production, 422: 208-211.

Taylor, , Francis. 1966. The pattern of animal communities. Great Britain: Menthuen and Co Ltd, II New Fetter Lane, London EC4.

Ware, R., F. Ramon-Portugal, A. Magro, C. Duncamp, J. Hemptinne, M. Majerus. 2008. Chemical protection of Calvia quatuordecimguttata eggs against intraguild predation by the invasive Harmonia axyridis. Biological Control, 53: 189-200.

Webberley, K., G. Hurst, R. Husband, J. Schulenburg, J. Sloggett, V. Isham, J. Buszko, M. Majerus. 2004. Host reproduction and a sexually transmitted disease: Causes and consequences of Coccipolipus hippodamiae distribution on coccinellid beetles. Journal of Animal Ecology, 73/1: 1-10.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

BioKIDS home  |  Questions?  |  Animal Diversity Web  |  Cybertracker Tools

Ijaz, D. 2013. "Calvia quatuordecimguttata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 24, 2014 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
Copyright © 2002-2014, The Regents of the University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

University of Michigan