- Create a ladybug sensory bin using a sand or water table. Fill the bottom with black beans to represent dirt. Use yellow beans to represent aphids and yellow beads to represent eggs. Children can paint rocks using black and red paint to create ladybugs. Then add a few leaves to the bin.
- Purchase ladybug larvae so that children can observe the changes in real life. Depending on their age, children can document the changes in a journal using pictures or sentences.
- Go on a ladybug hunt! Check out areas like parks, gardens, and fields to search for ladybugs. Talk about the habitats you find them in.
- Have children create a ladybug life cycle wheel using a paper plate divided into sections with pictures of each stage. Use a brad to attach a cover page with a window to the paper plate to make a spinner in order to look at each stage.
The life cycle of a ladybug is very similar to the life cycle of a butterfly. Ladybugs go through four stages – egg, larva, pupa, and young ladybug – before becoming adult ladybugs. Ladybugs begin as eggs. Female ladybugs lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. Laying them on the tops of leaves would be too dangerous because predators, like birds and insects, could see them and eat them. Laying the eggs on the underside of leaves also helps protect them from the weather like rain and wind. The eggs are tiny and yellow. Female ladybugs can lay ten to 50 eggs at a time.
After about four days, the larva stage begins. Larvae hatch from the eggs and right away, begin looking for food. They like to eat insects like mites and white flies. The larvae look a little like tiny alligators. They have long bodies and are black with brightly colored spots. The larvae eat until they are too big for their bodies. They shed their skin, or molt, so they can keep growing.
After a couple weeks, the pupa stage begins. The ladybugs are usually yellow or orange with black markings and look a little like shrimp. They attach themselves to leaves or twigs and appear to be sleeping. They are not really sleeping though and are going through metamorphosis. This is the process where their bodies change into ladybugs. It can take about three to 12 days for this to happen.
When metamorphosis is complete, the young ladybugs appear. They are yellow at first. Their exoskeletons, which are their shells, are soft. This makes them easy prey for predators. The young ladybugs feed on soft insects like they did as larvae.
The last stage is when the ladybugs become adults. Their color changes from yellow to red and they have dark spots. Their shells also harden. Adult ladybugs live for about a year.