How Long Do Ladybugs Live? Truth Revealed

Did you know that ladybugs can survive the winter, unlike many other insects? Let’s look at how long do ladybugs live.

Ladybugs – those cute, red, dome-shaped bugs with black spots make nice pets for those who love raising insects. 

In case you’re planning to keep some ladybugs at your home, you might wonder how long they’re going to live. 

While these bugs generally have a lifespan of about a year, it varies depending on the exact species.

Let’s look at the question in more detail.

How Long Do Ladybugs Live

How Long Do They Live?

Mature ladybugs, i.e., adults emerging from the pupal stage, live about a year. This is in addition to the couple of months they spend reaching this stage. 

One of the biggest factors determining a ladybug’s lifespan is its ability to hibernate. 

Ladybugs are cold-blooded insects and cannot survive the winter months without hibernating somewhere warm.

How do Ladybugs Survive Winter?

Like many insect species out there, ladybugs overwinter by hibernating. They look for protected places underneath tree bark, inside cracks and crevices, or homes. 

Once they find a suitable place to hibernate, they release chemical signals to inform and attract other ladybugs. Ultimately, they huddle up in large numbers to overwinter together.

As for food, they have fat reserves built up in advance that keep them alive in winter. 

You must have heard about the voracious appetite of ladybugs in summer, right? It allows them to gather extra fat and store it for the cold months.

Ladybug Life Cycle

Before you keep any type of bug as a pet, you should have an understanding of its life cycle. 

Only with detailed knowledge of the stages that it’s going to undergo can you take proper care of it. Here’s an overview of a ladybug’s life cycle:

How Long Do Ladybugs Live


We mentioned earlier that ladybugs stick together in large numbers when they hunker down for the winter. 

Apart from increasing their chances of survival, this also allows them to mate more easily. 

Once spring settles in and the temperatures start to warm up, the ladybugs end their hibernation and wake up. 

Living in such large colonies, they can start mating right away without having to go out in search of their significant others.

Mating among ladybugs has its own charms and rituals. For example, the males pick out females through a five-step action.

The males first come near a potential mate, then stop to watch, then examine the female more closely, and then go on to mount, and then “do the deed.”

Females are coy, and ones that are not ready for copulation (such as those who have mated recently, or are not mature) will reject the male during the rituals.

On the other hand, those females who are ready and willing give out both visual and pheromonal cues, attracting as many males as possible around them. 

How Long Do Ladybugs Live

In the end, though, the males get to mate with several females in a day.

While some ladybugs lay their eggs within a week of mating, there are others who store the sperm for two to three months before fertilizing. 

The breeding season itself may last up to a couple of months. This is why the time for laying eggs may vary from early spring to summer.

Cross-breeding between different ladybug species is quite rare. Firstly, most of them seek out mates of the same species anyway. 

Secondly, it can be physically impossible or very difficult for ladybugs of different species to mate due to a unique ‘lock-and-key’ system in their genitalia.

Eggs and Larvae

A female ladybug can lay a large number of eggs – as many as 200 or more in a single sitting. 

Depending on the species, they can potentially lay more than a thousand eggs throughout their lifespan. 

Ladybugs usually lay their yellow egg clusters near aphid colonies.  It takes only about a week for the eggs to hatch and the larvae to emerge.

The larvae start feeding on aphids immediately after hatching and grow through four molting stages, or instars. 

This feeding frenzy goes on for about 20 days, after which they get ready for the pupal stage.

How Long Do Ladybugs Live


A ladybug larva is black and spiny and looks completely different from the adults. It’s during the pupa stages that they transform into the cute bugs that we all know and love. 

Yellow in color with black spots like adult ladybugs, the pupae are easy to identify. 

They build their pupae on leaves and other plant matter in protected places. It takes them around two weeks to emerge as adults.

Adult Ladybugs

Finally, the beautiful adult ladybugs that you’re familiar with emerge from the pupae at the end of the pupal stage. 

While all adult ladybugs feature the black-spotted shells they’re well-known for, the pattern of the spots may vary. The primary color of the shell can range from yellow to red too.

They live for about a year, feeding on soft-bodied insects and insect eggs in summer and hibernating in winter. 

Aphids are their favorite food, although other insects, like scale insects and spider mites, are preferred food sources too. 

Their spotted shell and the unpleasant smell they release when threatened help them ward away predators. 

These adult ladybugs mate in spring after overwintering through the cold months, and the cycle repeats all over again.

How Long Do Ladybugs Live

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long do ladybugs live indoors?

While ladybugs indeed make good pets, they cannot survive very long indoors. 
You can raise them at home, but you’ll have to release them about a week after pupation unless you want to end up dead ladybugs. 
In captivity, ladybugs usually don’t survive longer than a couple of weeks.

2. Is it OK to keep a ladybug as a pet?

If you find the cuteness of these bugs to be too overwhelming, feel free to keep one as a pet. 
Besides being relatively harmless except for pinching if they feel threatened, ladybugs also require minimal care. This makes them nice pets for kids as well.

3. How long do ladybugs live without food?

This depends on the ladybug species and its current condition. If it’s close to winter and the bug has already built up a large reserve of stored fat, it can last several months. 
On the other hand, a ladybug may also die if it doesn’t get any food for a couple of days.

4. How do you know how old a ladybug is?

It’s impossible to guess the age of a ladybug unless you know when you hatched or pupated. 
There’s a common misconception regarding this matter – many believe that you can get a ladybug’s age by counting its spots. 
However, this is untrue, and the number of spots simply varies between different species of ladybugs.

Wrap Up

As it is, the one-year lifespan of a ladybug is rather short for a pet. The fact that you can have them for only about a couple of months before having to release them doesn’t make it any better, either. 

Still, it’s a good idea to keep these cute bugs in your garden, and you can always raise a new generation every year. They’re excellent natural pest control and certainly pleasing to the eye.

We hope we’ve been able to address your queries regarding the lifespan of a ladybug, how it survives the winter, and what it’s lifecycle is like.

Thank you for reading!

Reader Emails

Ladybugs are fascinating creatures, and many of our readers send us queries about them. How long they live is a very common question since lots of people would like to keep them as pests.

Over the years, we have received this query several times, along with some beautiful pics of ladybugs congregated together to avoid the winter cold.

Do have a look and enjoy these bugs in all their natural beauty!

Letter 1 – Fungus on a Ladybug


What Do Ladybugs EatParasitic invasion!! Location: Missouri November 7, 2010 8:28 pm Bugman, I wanted to share with you an extremely poor picture I took…however the content makes it a keeper. I’m sure you get plenty, but this is my first. I believe this to be a parasite infested Lady Beetle. It was pretty much dead, though still moving a bit (probably from the parasites?). Anyway, I’d love to get your confirmation on my suspicions regarding the parasites and also if you have any guess as to what may have infected the beetle. Thanks Also, I didn’t even notice the parasites until I started editing….as these were shot at around 3:1 magnification, the parasites were too small to see with the human eye (or at least my eyes). If I had known, I would have shot some better pictures…but I just thought it was a dead beetle. Signature: Nathanael Siders
Fungus on a Ladybug
Hi Nathanael, We thought this looked like a Fungus that had gotten the best of this Lady Beetle, and when we searched BugGuide we found a section on Ladybugs with Laboulbeniales fungiBugGuide has a photo that illustrates an especially virulent example with this information:  “This is a fantastic photo.  The fungus is a member of Laboulbeniales, under the genus Hesperomyces. Almost 100% positive it is Hesperomyces virescens as I do not know of other species that grow on Harmonia.  Hesperomyces occurs on all sorts of coccinellids (and a Scymnus from New Zealand), including Harmonia, Hippodamia, etc.  As for the rest of the pictures linked here that are on Harmonia, the infections are almost certainly all H. virescens.  Would be happy to help in IDs of Laboulbeniales in the future. Monica Hughes” That is very interesting.  I have never seen anything like this before and thought this might be something similar to the work of a parasitic wasp of some kind.  Thank you for the correction on the true nature of this situation and now I have some new interesting things to read up on with the fungus taking over insects.

Letter 2 – Ladybugs on Seaweed


Have you any idea why lady bird beetles would congregate on seaweed at the beach? This is Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, north of San Francisco. Certainly no aphids on seaweed! Do they eat something else? Also, do these beetles get their spots in stages and are these all convergent ladybugs even though they don’t all have the regular spot pattern?

Hi Wendy,
Ladybird Beetles are often swept out to sea or out onto large lakes due to wind patterns. They climb aboard whatever “raft” happens to float by, like seaweed. When the seaweed washes ashore, the Ladybird Beetles reach dry land and eventually fly away. There is much individual variation in coloration within species.

Letter 3 – Everything Ladybug


Bug Link Suggestion Fri, May 29, 2009 at 9:10 PM Hi WTB, Your site is an invaluable resource to us here at Everything Ladybug. We hope you will take a look at our site and consider it for your bug links section. regards, Kevin and Angie Hale

4 thoughts on “How Long Do Ladybugs Live? Truth Revealed”

Leave a Comment