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Coleomegilla maculata

What do they look like?

Spotted lady beetles are oval-shaped, pink to red in color, and have six black spots on each of their wings. Their middles are pinkish or yellowish and have two triangular spots. Their heads are black with one pink or red triangle-shaped spot. Larvae of spotted lady beetles are dark brown and have orange markings. Both larvae and adults have three sets of legs. Adult lady spotted beetles are 5-6 millimeters in length. Larvae are up to 9 millimeters in length. (Gordon, 1985)

  • Range length
    5 to 6 mm
    0.20 to 0.24 in

Where do they live?

Coleomegilla maculata, commonly known as spotted lady beetles or 12-spotted lady beetles, are found across North, Central, and South America. Their range stretches from California to Mexico and south to Cuba. The three subspecies Coleomegilla maculata lengi, Coleomegilla maculata strenua, and Coleomegilla maculata fubscilabris live in different areas. C.m. lengi lives in most of the eastern United States, except for New England and Florida. C.m. strenua is found from Texas to southern California. C.m. fubscilabris lives in Florida and the parts of the Gulf Coast. (Gordon, 1985; Krafsur and Obrycki, 2000; Morales-Ramos and Rojas, 2017; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Spotted lady beetles like to live where their prey lives. They can be found on crops like corn, hophornbeam copperleaf, and less commonly wheat, sorghum, alfalfa, soybeans, cotton, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, asparagus, and apples. (Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

How do they grow?

Larvae go through four stages of growth. During their fourth stage of growth, they pupate and go through metamorphosis. Pupation lasts from 3-13 days. The temperature impacts how long they pupate. There are two to five generations of spotted lady beetles every year. The last generation of the year will mate and then hibernate through the winter. Once they wake up, the females will lay their eggs. (Sheldon, 2020)

How do they reproduce?

Female spotted lady beetles may lay eggs on the lower part of corn plants. They also lay eggs near corn fields on hophornbeam copperleaf and weeds. Spotted lady beetles don't lay eggs on plants that have smooth leaves. Egg-laying begins in the spring and continues on until the summer. They may lay anywhere from 200 to 1,000 eggs over three months. Spotted lady beetles reproduce sexually. (Sheldon, 2020; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

  • Range eggs per season
    200 to 1000

Spotted lady beetles do not take care of their young.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement

How long do they live?

Adults can be found from April until late September. They are most common near the end of September. There are between two to five generations of spotted lady beetles per year. (Sheldon, 2020)

How do they behave?

Adults hunt for prey during the day, while larvae feed both during the day and during the night. Adults climb up plants to eat during the morning hours and climb back down during the afternoon. (Morales-Ramos and Rojas, 2017; Sheldon, 2020)

How do they communicate with each other?

Spotted lady beetles mostly communicate through pheromones. They use visual, tactile, and chemical senses of perception. (Zhu, et al., 1999)

What do they eat?

Spotted lady beetles mostly eat aphids, whiteflies, mites, butterflies and moths eggs and larvae, leaf beetle eggs and larvae, and spider mites. Up to half of their diet can be made up of pollen. Spotted lady beetle larvae may eat each other. (Gordon, 1985; Rondon, et al., 2006)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • pollen

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

The larvae of spotted lady beetles may eat each other. A species of tachinid fly attacks larvae of spotted lady beetles. One species of braconid wasp attacks adult, larval, and pupal spotted lady beetles. (Frank and Mizell III, 2014; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

  • Known Predators
    • Other larvae (Coleomegilla maculata)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Spotted lady flies are important predators of crop pests like aphids. Since their diet can consist of up to 50% pollen, they may pollinate plants as they move from one to another. (Sheldon, 2020)

Do they cause problems?

Spotted lady flies have no known negative economic impact. (Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

How do they interact with us?

Spotted lady beetles hunt and eat crop pests like aphids, whiteflies, mites, butterflies and moths eggs and larvae, leaf beetle eggs and larvae, and spider mites. They can be used to lower pest populations on farms and in gardens. Spotted lady beetles may also pollinate the plants they visit. (Gordon, 1985; Rondon, et al., 2006; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

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

Are they endangered?

Spotted lady beetles are not endangered.

Some more information...

Coleomegilla maculata are commonly known as spotted lady beetles or 12-spotted lady beetles. (Frank and Mizell III, 2014; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

Contributors

Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

References

Cruz, I., M. de Lourdes Corrêa Figueiredo, W. de Souza Tavares. 2010. Development of Coleomegilla maculata de Geer (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) With Prey and Artificial Diet. Revista Brasileira de Milho e Sorgo, 9(1): 13-26. Accessed October 05, 2020 at http://dx.doi.org/10.18512/1980-6477/rbms.v9n1p13-26.

Frank, H., R. Mizell III. 2014. "common name: ladybirds, lady beetles, ladybugs [of Florida] scientific name: (Insecta: Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)" (On-line). Featured Creatures. Accessed October 14, 2020 at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/beneficial/lady_beetles.htm.

Gordon, R. 1985. The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of America North of Mexico. Journal of the New York Entomological Society, 93(1): 698-702.

Krafsur, E., J. Obrycki. 2000. Coleomegilla maculata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) is a Species Complex. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 93(5): 1156-1163. Accessed October 05, 2020 at https://doi.org/10.1603/0013-8746(2000)093[1156:CMCCIA]2.0.CO;2.

Morales-Ramos, J., M. Rojas. 2017. Temperature-Dependent Biological and Demographic Parameters of Coleomegilla maculata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Journal of Insect Science, 17(2): 55.

Rondon, S., J. Price, D. Cantliffe. 2006. DEVELOPMENTAL TIME, REPRODUCTION, AND FEEDING OF TWO SUBSPECIES OF COLEOMEGILLA MACULATA (COLEOPTERA: COCCINELLIDAE) IN THE LABORATORY. Florida Entomologist, 89(1): 85-88. Accessed October 05, 2020 at https://doi.org/10.1653/0015-4040(2006)89[85:DTRAFO]2.0.CO;2.

Sheldon, A. 2020. "Coleomegilla maculata" (On-line). Biological Control, A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America. Accessed October 08, 2020 at https://biocontrol.entomology.cornell.edu/predators/Coleomegilla.php.

Staley, A., K. Yeargan. 2005. Oviposition Behavior of Coleomegilla maculata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae): Diel Periodicity and Choice of Host Plants. Environmental Entomology, 34(2): 440-445. Accessed October 05, 2020 at https://doi.org/10.1603/0046-225X-34.2.440.

Zhu, J., A. Cossé, J. Obrycki, K. Boo, T. Baker. 1999. Olfactory Reactions of the Twelve-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coleomegilla maculata and the Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea to Semiochemicals Released from Their Prey and Host Plant: Electroantennogram and Behavioral Responses. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 25(5): 1163-1177.

 
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Hauze, D. 2021. "Coleomegilla maculata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed September 27, 2021 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Coleomegilla_maculata/

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.
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