How To Recognize Ladybug Larva: Tiny Alligators in The Yard

Ladybugs leave a ton of eggs on garden plants, and the larvae hatch when the time comes right. You would want to know how to recognize ladybug larva if you are expecting some to hatch soon. This article will tell you all about them.

Ladybugs are beneficial insects that eat up plant pests and help farmers and gardeners grow their crops. 

While they eat up tree bark, fungi, mildew, leaves, and other parts of plants, they only lay eggs on the leaves. 

The eggs develop into larvae. These tiny critters have black bodies with bright markings and are easy to recognize if you know where to look. 

This article focuses on the story of these little creatures – what they look like and the life stages they go through before becoming the adult ladybugs we all know and love. 

How To Recognize Ladybug Larva
Lady Beetle Larva

What Do Ladybug Larvae Look Like?

A ladybug larva is about ½ inch long with an elongated and spiky body. 

The newly hatched larva looks like a tiny alligator with its black body covered in red, yellow, and orange markings. 

From a distance, most people might get intimidated seeing them. While the spikes on their back may scare some people, they are also the highlight of its body. 

However, there is nothing to be afraid of since ladybugs in the larval stage are entirely harmless to humans. 

They do not bite people or harm us in any way. They consume pests for several weeks until they reach the pupal stage. 

A larva can eat dozens of aphids in a single day and is even more powerful in pest control than adults.

The larvae have six legs attached to both sides of the thorax. The abdomen has nine parts, the last being its tale.

Their heads are well-developed, and mandibles are strong enough to eat up garden pests and plants. 

The larvae start eating the minute they come out of their egg. However, it takes a few weeks for the larvae to grow into adults after getting out of their cocoons. 

How To Recognize Ladybug Larva
American Lady Caterpillar

How Long Do They Live as Larvae? 

A typical ladybug lays thousands of eggs in the three-month time they have during spring. 

The larval stage starts about four days after the eggs are laid, but factors like temperature and environment may increase or decrease the hatching period. 

Sometimes it may go from seven days to even a month.

The larval stage starts the minute the organism comes out of the egg. 

What Do Ladybug Eggs Look Like? 

There are different species of ladybugs worldwide, so their eggs may look different. Most eggs are oval-shaped and about 0.04 inches in height but can be tinier. 

They can be found in different colors, including pale yellow, orange-red, white, and more. 

They are usually tightly clustered together on the undersides of leaves or flower pots. Most insect eggs are taller than they are wide, and ladybugs are no different. 

A typical ladybug lays at least 10 to 50 eggs in a single plant and ensures that it is infested with soft-bodied insects like aphids or scale insects. 

She also guards the plant and steers away predatory insects that may want to steal the larva’s food during this time. 

Female ladybugs lay both fertilized and unfertilized eggs in the cluster. Even if the larvae cannot find aphids, they can easily feed on the infertile eggs to survive for a few days.

Four Stages of Larva Life Cycle

Ladybug larvae go through four main instar stages before they develop into an adult. 

Once the larva is out, it is in its first instar. At this point, the nymph is restricted in its movements and spends most of its time acclimatizing and looking for food. 

The next task of the larva is to find food. Thankfully, female ladybugs always lay their eggs on leaves where food is already abundant. 

If by some accident, there is no food source – the larvae will die in one or two days. 

If they get a good start, they might keep growing for three to four weeks before they reach the next stage. 

In this first developmental stage, larvae need to grow in size and therefore have to eat a lot. This is why the larvae are such voracious predators.

In the second to the fourth stage, the larvae continue eating aphids, helping them metamorphose into pupae. 

How To Recognize Ladybug Larva
American Lady Caterpillar

Remaining Life Cycle 

The larval stage lasts for about 20 to 30 days, during which the larvae acclimatize to the environment, consume aphids, molts, and shed their skin to reach the next stage. 

During this stage, the larvae eat up to 400 aphids, but if the food sources are scarce, they may eat infertile eggs or even each other.

After the 20-30 day period, larvae start to change. Their outer shell starts to become harder, and their movements become slower.

Pupal stage

If the larva has stopped moving and eating anything at all it has achieved the pupal stage. 

It is quite a transformational stage that lasts for 3 to 12 days. At the end of this stage, the pupae shed their black and orange skin and what comes out is the adult ladybug. 

Adult stage

At the end of the pupal stage, the ladybug’s shell is soft. But it takes only a few hours to harden before it gains its typical bright colors. 

Once the shell is set and pigmented, the ladybird leaves the shell and moves out.

How To Recognize Ladybug Larva
Painted Lady Caterpillar


Frequently Asked Questions 

What looks similar to ladybug larvae?

The larvae look like orange and black miniature alligators with spiky exoskeletons and an elongated abdomen. 
There may be many caterpillars that might look similar to ladybug larvae, such as the Malacosoma disstria or the yellow-striped army moth.

What color are ladybug larvae?

Ladybug larvae have elongated bodies covered in black color. You can also find bright markings on the abdomen’s lateral side, like red, orange, or yellow. 
From afar, they look like tiny black alligators against the green backdrop of their host plants and are quite easy to pick out.

Do ladybug larvae bite?

Ladybug larvae do not bite; they don’t have teeth or mouthparts to do it. They can easily eat lots of aphids during this time. 
Asian ladybeetles that look like adult ladybugs can bite people. They are an invasive species that enter people’s homes during winter to seek warmth and shelter. 

How do I get rid of bugs that look like ladybugs?

You can get rid of bugs by vacuuming, spraying white vinegar on the insects, setting up light traps since bugs are attracted to light, drowning them in soapy water, or using insecticides to kill them. 

Wrap Up 

Ladybug larvae are uniquely distinctive insects. They can be easily spotted against the green backdrop of the leaves they are sitting on, because of their black color.

They look like tiny alligators and have striking colors on their back such as white, pink and yellow. There are a few caterpillars that might look like them, but mostly they are very easy to identify.

Thank you for reading!

Reader Emails

Over the years, many of our readers have become confused or surprised after seeing a ladybug larva in their garden or yard, since its not like any other insect they have encountered.

While most reactions to these tiny alligators are benign, others are scared and some are completely hilarious.

Do read all about these experiences in the emails from our readers below, and enjoy the fun!

Letter 1 – Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle Larva


small bug, with yellow stripes July 13, 2009 do you know what kind of bug this is, and is it poisonous? Joyce northeastern Pennsylvania
Lady Beetle Larva
Lady Beetle Larva
Hi Joyce, In recent weeks, we have had countless requests for the identification of Lady Beetle Larvae, the immature form of Ladybugs, but since out computer was so slow, we did not post any, nor could we take the time to respond personally.  Our fast new computer is allowing us to address ever so many more identification requests.  The larvae of the Lady Beetle is not poisonous.  They are predators of plant feeding insects like aphids, and we have gotten reports of people being bitten by larval Lady Beetles, but the bite is just a harmless nip.  Based on this BugGuide image, your individual appears to be the larva of the invasive Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle.

Letter 2 – Lady Beetle Larva and Pupae


Purple and Orange bugs Location: Eagle Mountain, UT July 7, 2011 5:51 pm I’ve got purple and orange bugs all over my daisys. They almost look like caterpillars except they’ve got 6 legs. Some are longer than others. Legs are in front by the head and the ’tail’ is different lengths. They are hanging out with my ladybugs. I’ve also got stubbier ones that are more reddish. What are they? Are they both the same thing? Signature: Calamity Jane
Lady Beetle Larva
Dear Calamity Jane, The reason these larvae and pupae are near your Lady Beetles is that they are the immature forms of the Lady Beetle.  Their form changes considerably during metamorphosis.  Your daisies must be providing plenty of Aphids to support this population.
Lady Beetle Pupae

Letter 3 – Lady Beetle Larvae control Hemipteran Pests on Apple Trees in the UK


How Do Ladybugs MateSubject: apple tree infestation Location: Guildford Surrey June 28, 2015 10:38 am Hi, I found lots of these climbing on my apple tree. There was also a type of white fungus around which some of them congregated – this possibly contains eggs? I don’t know if they are bad for the tree or not. They measure approx. 1cm, but some are slightly smaller. They have 6 legs but the back part of their body looks like a caterpillar. I hope you can help. Signature: Barbara
Lady Beetle Larvae eat Hemipterans
Lady Beetle Larvae eat Hemipterans
Dear Barbara, While there is a pest problem on your apple tree, nature seems to be controlling the situation.  What you have mistaken for fungus or eggs is actually a type of Hemipteran, possibly a Woolly Aphid which you can read about on the Royal Horticultural Society site.  The crawling insects are the larvae of Lady Beetles, and they are feeding on the Hemipterans.   The bad news here is that the Lady Beetle Larva is an Asian Lady Beetle Larva, a nonnative species, and it is believed that the proliferation of nonnative Asian Lady Beetles in North America is contributing to the decline in numbers of native species.
Lady Beetle Larva
Lady Beetle Larva
Hi Daniel, Thank you so much for the information – so it is good news and bad news! Since posting, many of the larva have now attached their back ends to the tree bark and are hanging upside down, obviously in preparation for their next stage of development.  Also, there is now very little evidence of the ‘white fluff’ so they have probably done their job.  Unfortunately, many of the leaves on the tree are not looking very healthy but I am loathe to spray anything and just let nature take its course so I can review the tree in the autumn (it is past its prime anyway). Thank you again for your help. Regards Barbara

Letter 4 – Lady Beetle Larva


Small orange and black bug I haven’t seen before Location: Southwest Virginia May 10, 2011 12:42 pm This morning, my Rose of Sharon bush was covered with these little guys. I’ve lived here all my life and never saw them before. Signature: Rhea
Lady Beetle Larva
Dear Rhea, Its presence in prodigious numbers is an indication that this Lady Beetle Larva  has a plentiful food source which has been feeding on your Rose of Sharon.  Both adult and larval Lady Beetles, erroneously called Lady Bugs, feed on Aphids and other plant pests, so it is actually a cure for your plant and not the problem.

Letter 5 – Ladybird Beetle Larva


new bee?
Hi Bugman,
I don’t like bugs, I think they are scary. So forgive me for not browsing through previously identified bugs. Last week I’ve found this bug as he came crawling out of my keyboard. I’ve asked everyone I know, but nobody knows what this could be. It didn’t scare me that much, I think this dude’s quite cool. He looks like an ant wearing a bee costume. I hope you can help me so I can rest knowing the name of this guy. Thank you for your reply!
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Hi Joy,
People are often very surprised to hear that those “Alligator Bugs” are actually immature Ladybird Beetles, or Ladybugs.

Letter 6 – Two Spotted Stink Bug Nymph eats Ladybird Beetle Larva


Bug Identification Please Hi, The following photo was taken a few days ago, in Northern Virginia, on a grapevine. The insect on the right appears to be a ladybug larvae. The unknown insect on the left was feeding on the larvae. Thanks, John Hi John, The unknown insect below (we rotated your image to conform to the aesthetics of our site) is an immature Two Spotted Stink Bug, Perillus bioculatus. BugGuide has a photo that shows more black on the nymph, but this species has some degree of variability. The Two Spotted Stink Bug is an important predator of the Colorado Potato Beetle, but sadly, in your example, it has eaten another predator, a Ladybird Beetle Larva. We have gotten numerous recent identification requests for the Ladybird Larvae, but the photos have been blurry. It is nice to be able to post your crisp and dramatic image.

Letter 7 – Convergent Lady Beetle Larva


Subject: Six -legged gray bug with orangey spots Location: Piedmont/upstate area of South Carolina – in my yard May 25, 2016 5:59 pm Dear Bugman, I am trying to learn the different garden variety bugs and which ones are beneficial and which ones need to find other living (or not) arrangements. I don’t indiscriminately destroy any bugs; but I learned my lesson to at least contain unknown ones, even if only long enough to I.D. them. Last year I found the coolest bug ever in my garden on my tomato plant; however, by the time I could look it up and discover what this beautiful creature was, he had already camouflaged himself! So, one huge green horned tomato worm got a reprieve from instant and permanent eviction. The attached photo was taken in my front yard while I was trying to identify some plants and came across these guys. I still do not know what the plant is, but there were several ladybugs around too. I only saw three of these gray-orangey spotted critters. The picture of the rolled up one is the bug’s reaction to being surprised. (No gray orangey spotted critter was harmed in the making of these pics) I hope you can help. Signature: It’s really buggin me- Dawn
Convergent Lady Beetle Larva
Convergent Lady Beetle Larva
Dear Dawn, One of the reasons you found nearby Ladybugs is that this is the larva of a Convergent Lady Beetle, Hippodamia convergens, a species we identified on the University of Kentucky Entomology site and then verified on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, they feed upon “Aphids, also whiteflies and other soft bodied insects” that are considered agricultural pests, hence the Convergent Lady Beetle is available through “commercial sales for biological control.”

Letter 8 – Fungus Eating Ladybird Beetle Larva


Subject: caterpillar or bug? Location: auckland- new zealand March 9, 2014 6:57 pm Hi There! Just found a huge hoard of these new bugs on our zucchini plant leaves- only the leaves in the shade but covering the top and bottom of the leaves. Its nearing the end of the summer here and the only other life to be found on the zucchini are bright yellow and black lady bugs. the biggest of these bugs is about 1 cm long and the smallest is about 1 mm Look forward to finding out what this is!! Signature: Thanks
Fungus Eating Ladybird Larva
Fungus Eating Ladybird Larva
This is the larva of a beneficial Fungus Eating Ladybird Beetle, which will eventually transform into the “bright yellow and black Lady Bugs” you mentioned.  We quickly learned this information on the Aussie Organic Gardening page on powdery mildew on zucchini where the life stages of the Fungus Eating Ladybird are compared to the 26 Spot Ladybird which feeds on the leaves.  The Brisbane Insect website provided us with the scientific name Illeis galbula and the information:  “The Fungus-eating Ladybird larvae grow up to 8-10mm.  They are creamy white in colour with lines of black dots on their back. They are usually found feeding those black mold or fungus on leaves. The larvae runs very fast when disturbed. Larvae feed only on powdery mildew type of  fungus (Oidium sp., Erysiphales) which infecting various plants.”  We would love for you to send us photos of the adult Fungus Eating Ladybird as well.

Letter 9 – Lady Beetle Larva


a strange bug Location: Nord Italy May 30, 2011 5:43 am This small bug try to bit my neck. The bug lenght is about 1.0cm Signature: Giovanni Pegorer
Lady Beetle Larva
Hello Giovanni, We don’t receive many identification requests from Italy.  This is the larva of a Lady Beetle or Ladybug.  Both adults and larvae are considered beneficial insects because of the large quantities of Aphids that they consume.

Letter 10 – Lady Beetle Larva


Subject: What Am I? Location: Minnetonka, MN December 6, 2012 2:25 pm Found this on a cattail reed in a pond in Minnesota, near Minneapolis. Signature: Leia
Lady Beetle Larva
Hi Leia, We took incredible creative license in cropping your photograph of a Lady Beetle larva to best format it for our website.

Letter 11 – Lady Beetle Larva


Subject: interesting insect – don’t know where to start looking Location: Madera County, CA May 5, 2013 4:00 pm Dear Bugman, I come to you again with an interesting insect. I took this picture this morning. The insect in question spent some time working over this nascent bloom (heartleaf arnica of some sort), making sure to visit every nook, cranny and drop of dew or nectar or whatever the drops were. We live in Madera County, CA in oak savanna terrain. The photo was taken about 100 yards away from the Chowchilla River. I would be greatly appreciative if you could identify this insect. Thanks for your great web site! Signature: Megan Ralph
Lady Beetle Larva
Lady Beetle Larva
lady beetle (ladybug) larva Thank you!  No wonder I liked it so much 🙂 We are now preparing a longer response because we decided to post your submission.
Lady Beetle Larva
Lady Beetle Larva

Letter 12 – Lady Beetle Larva


Subject: Garden Bug ID Location: DFW Texas April 26, 2016 6:50 pm Is this bug eating my garden Signature: Thanks – Mark
Lady Beetle Larva
Lady Beetle Larva
Dear Mark, This Lady Beetle Larva or Ladybug Larva is not eating your garden, but it is eating Aphids and other insect pest that are eating your garden.

Letter 13 – Lady Beetle Larva


Subject: Can’t fathom what this is Location: Alabama December 19, 2016 2:11 am Dear bugman, I found this bug crawling slowly in my room. I live in Alabama. I know we have carpet beetles I literally cannot figure out what this is. It’s like covered or made out of black fur. It had legs and was crawling. The pictures Wil do the best talking. Please if you can check it out o appreciate it . Signature: Chel
Lady Beetle Larva
Lady Beetle Larva
Dear Chel, This sure looks like a predatory Lady Beetle Larva to us.
Lady Beetle Larva
Lady Beetle Larva
Oh thank you so so so so so much !! I am so happy to know what it was ! 🙂

Letter 14 – Lady Beetle Larva


Subject: Whats the black and yellow Chevron bug Location: Santa Monica, CA USA March 29, 2017 4:17 pm Ive lived in Los Angeles all my life but suddenly never seen before bugs keep appearing… Orb weavers and this one in particular is what I call a Chevron bug but after a couple years of sitings and visitations I have no luck identifying the creature by myself online and figured I would ask you… Let me know if you know. Is it simple a beetle type or something? Should I fear or maim it in self defense?! Signature: Lisa Susann Stanton
Lady Beetle Larva
Dear Lisa, This is the larva of a Lady Beetle.  It is not harmful to people, but it will eat Aphids and other small insects. Whoaaaaa! Thanks!!!!!!! Your enthusiasm is refreshing. I know now Im watching the four stages and thinking wow i love ladybugs and im glad i still loved them before they grew up to be cute and cheerful…larvae are pretty scary. Still they perch on me alot. Glad I could help out the cute ladybugs before they were pretty.

Letter 15 – 15 Spotted Lady Beetle Larva and Pupa


Strange looking beetles May 29, 2010 These bugs were on the playset in my backyard. I live in Minnesota, have all my life, and have never seen anything like these before! I’m wondering what they are, and if they’re harmful in any way? The definitely look exotic! The first one is a little bigger than a ladybug, and the second is about the size of 3 ladybugs. Mandy Woodbury MN
15 Spotted Lady Beetle Larva
Spiky, Spotted Snail thing?? May 30, 2010 My friend found this bug/snail/worm thing on her playset in her backyard. It looked so unique we asked many many people if they knew what it was. No one has been able to give an answer. What is this and is it harmful, useful, or just a bug? Appeldoorn Woodbury, MN
15 Spotted Lady Beetle Pupa
Dear Mandy and Appledoorn, Since you both wrote to us with the same image, we are combining your letters into one posting.  The photos represent the larva and pupa of a Lady Beetle, but we need to do some research to try to identify the exact species.  We quickly matched the pupa to that of the 15 Spotted Lady Beetle based on a photo posted to BugGuide.

Letter 16 – Lady Beetle Larva and Pupae from Australia


Can you ID these bugs? Location: Adelaide, South Australia October 24, 2011 9:25 pm Hi We have just found this bugs, mainly the orange, ladybird looking ones on my mother’s stone fruit trees. They seem to be have suckers inbedded in the bark and the tree seems to be really struggling. She is in Adelaide, South Australia, it is currently Spring. Thanks so much. Alison. Signature: No preference
Lady Beetle Pupae
Hi Alison, You have sent us photos of the pupae and a larva of some Lady Beetle.  We presume they are the same species.  They appear to be Common Spotted Ladybirds, Harmonia conformis, based on photos posted to the Brisbane Insect website.
Lady Beetle Larva

Letter 17 – Ladybird Beetle Larva


Please id?

Hi Stephen,
This is a Ladybird Beetle Larva. Most people don’t associate the fierce but small larva with the popular orange and black spotted adult Ladybug.

Letter 18 – Ladybird Beetle Larva


Hello Lisa and Daniel:
Maybe you can find this images useful. From the garden of a friendly couple in San Miguel Beach, Ensenada, México
Antonio Carbajal R.

Hi Antonio,
We frequently get requests to identify the larvae of Ladybird Beetles.

Letter 19 – Ladybird Beetle Larva


Stange bugs (can’t identify)
Hi Bugman,
Hope your vacation went well. I have these strange bugs that are dropping from the tree in Portland Oregon area. They are congregating on the Cable box and on my mailbox. I think they are from the trees, but I don’t know. They are less than 1/2 inch long and they sort of wander in circles. I assume they are some kind of larvae, but I don’t know. None of the guides seem to help. They do not have antennae, and they look to have 6 legs. They are also covered in hair? Here are some pics that should give you a good idea of what they are. Thanks in advance..
Neal Wolff

Hi Neal,
This is a Ladybird Beetle Larva. We have received several recent identification requests.

Letter 20 – Ladybird Beetle Larva


orange and black bug
We found this pretty little orange and black bug in our house, and were wondering what it is. It’s the only one like it we have ever seen. If it’s already on your site somewhere, I wasn’t able to find it. Thanks!
Palm Bay, FL

Hi Kristine,
This is a Ladybug Larva, or more correctly, a Ladybird Beetle Larva.

Letter 21 – Ladybird Beetle Larva


weird bug
Hi – I’ve seen another interesting bug. It was crawling across my porch. it’s not the first time I’ve seen its kind, and have always wondered what it is. Thanks!!

Hi Michelle,
The wonders of metamorphosis never cease to amaze. Most everyone can identify a Ladybug, more accurately a Ladybird Beetle, but few people recognize the larval form. That is what you have photographed. They have ravenous appetites and devour huge quantities of Aphids. The Larval Ladybird Beetles are often found in tall grass and they are very mobile.

Letter 22 – Eucalyptus Beetle Larva, we have learned


What is this bug?? Hi Bugman, We have had lots of these little critters in our den lately – and my husband and I have NEVER seen these before- we live in a wooded area in Southern California w/ lots of Eucalyptus trees. We find a few a day lately- and are so curious as to what they are and what they do and where they come from and how we can get rid of them! HELP! Thanks mucho! Warm regards, Jody Tsouo Hi Jody, Our first thought was perhaps you had some type of beetle larva, but we checked with Eric Eaton who thought that it might be one of the Rove Beetles. Your photo is a little unclear and the fact that you shot through plastic didn’t help. Thanks for getting back to me- and yes, they do seem to be in somewhat of a larvae stage- when they move, their whole bodies shorten and extend, almost like a lizard or snake. I’ve been obsessed w/ them wondering what they are, and have been watching them quite closely 🙂 I did a search online of rove beetles, and the ones we have look nothing like any rove beetle listed on this site. They don’t move fast at all either- and they tend to “Cling” when you try to grab them. I am having a pest person come over in a little bit to try and identify them- their 6 legs are in the upper quadrant of their body- and when I tried to grab one yesterday, this yellow fluid came out- wasn’t sure if it was waste, or trying to defend itself. It was bright yellow though. I’ll let you know what they say- he said if he couldn’t ID it, he’d send some up to the Cal Agro people… I can try and take some better shots if you want. Warm regards, Jody Tsouo Hi again, Just found out that they may be lady bug larvae- since the pest guy wasn’t 100% sure, he’s sending them to the California Agro people to see what they say- the funny thing is we have seen a few lady bugs around lately- and just thought they were good luck! He did find a few dead lady bugs that were tan in color, and hadn’t fully developed to their red color yet. Warm regards, Jody Tsouo Let us know what the California Agro people have to say Jody. Eric Eaton also agrees. He wrote back: “Ah-HA! The lady beetle larvae answer seems much better, though I would have expected some red markings somewhere….” Update:  California Eucalyptus Beetle Larva October 28, 2011 Thanks to a comment from sundeeavila, we now know that this is the larva of a recently introduced species of Leaf Beetle, the Eucalyptus Leaf Beetle, Chrysophtharta m-fuscum.  The UC Riverside Entomology site has a nice profile on the species that contains this information:  “Eucalyptus leaf beetle is a new pest of ornamental eucalyptus and was introduced from Australia into southern California around 2003. It is not controlled by native parasites or predators. In Australia it is commonly known as one of the eucalyptus tortoise beetle species. It is known as an outbreak pest of commercial E. globules, blue gum plantations in southeastern Australia.”  Here is a matching photo of the larvae.

Letter 23 – Ladybird Beetle Larva and Pupae


what are these bugs?
I found these bugs on a beech tree, near a lake in Westchester County, about 1 hour north of Manhattan. A lake is nearby, some bugs were burrowed into the bark. What are they? Thanks

Hi Irene,
This is a Ladybird Beetle Larva and several Pupae. “Ladybugs” are beneficial insects that feed on Aphids, Scale and other injurious plant pests.

Letter 24 – Ladybird Beetle Larva from India


Hi Bugman….
First of all…..wonderful site!! Congratulations!! Please help me id this bug I found in my garden…. Best regards to your team from INDIA.
Dr. Santosh C G

Dear Dr. Santosh,
This is the larval form of a Ladybird Beetle, commonly known as a Ladybug. The larvae are known as Aphid Lions.

Letter 25 – Ladybird Beetle Larva: Ladybug


new bug at my house Location: Nashville TN October 25, 2010 11:32 am There is this weird bug that has appeared at my house. They are all over the place. They are around a quarter inch in length. Signature: Katherine
Ladybird Beetle Larva
Hi Katherine, The Ladybird Beetle, or Ladybug as it is more commonly called, is arguably one of the most recognized and best loved bugs, but few people would connect this alligator-like, aphid eating larva as the same insect.  After completing its metamorphosis, this Ladybird Larva will be considerably more recognizable.

Letter 26 – Los Angeles Winds bring down Lady Beetle Larvae


Subject: It’s Raining Lady Bug Larvae! Location: Montecito Hts/Rose Hill, CA April 8, 2013 4:57 pm Dear Daniel, As I am sure you are sharing in this windstorm over the hill in Mt. Washington I thought I’d share what it has shaken out of the Black Walnut trees over here on Rose Hill. I believe them to be Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (according to Bug Guide) and they are EVERYWHERE by the hundreds. These are the few I started picking up quickly as I thought my chickens would ravage them but I soon realized they were not interested. Maybe they already ate their fill(?) or they don’t like the taste is what I am thinking. In any event, I thought I’d share what the wind blew down – and yes, these individuals were relocated to the chicken free zone just in case. Kind Regards Signature: joAnn
Lady Beetle Larvae rain down!!!
Lady Beetle Larvae rain down!!!
Hi joAnn, Alas, we were away from our home office and working in Hollywood during the bulk of the storm where the only thing raining down seemed to be palm fronds.  These do look like Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Larvae and we are curious why there were so many in the black walnuts.  We did find some Scale Insects on one of our own black walnut trees some time back, and we wonder if they might be feeding on scale.  Thanks for submitting this fascinating account and your photos.  We are tagging you as a Bug Humanitarian as well.  We also learned that our Mount Washington Weather Station anemometer failed to report wind speeds recently and that is how we knew we had a record 101 MPH wind blast on our hill in December 2011.
Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Larvae
Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Larvae
Hi Daniel, Thank you for the email. I hadn’t read my Twitter feed so I didn’t know there was a response. As far as what they are feeding on – I can say with certainty that my trees are full of green aphids. I had noticed last week that every time I went under my trees a few would manage to fall on me. Then again, this year I seem to have exponential numbers of everything seeing as it’s also been raining wooly bears. I too have scale insects on one particular succulent (cotton scale) and in hopes that these lady bug larvae would lend a hand I released the lot of them there. No luck. They moved on. I found more this evening but not in such great numbers as yesterday. I don’t think the winds made it anywhere near what they were in 2011 – wow, 101MPH?? Yikes! Best, joAnn

Letter 27 – Plant Pests Mealybug and Scale Insects, and predator Twice Stabbed Ladybird Beetle Larva


Rather than having to do attachments, if you could just take a look at my blog post and let me know what these things are and what I can do about them, I’d really appreciate it. You’re welcome to copy any of the bug photos if you want to post on your site. thanks!

From Nancy’s Blog: So what do I do when I finally get a Saturday off? I get a headache of course! No really, I planned on being very productive today and getting a lot done around the house, but I got a headache and feel like taking it easy. I am getting one thing done. I went out and photographed some bugs in an attempt to identify what’s killing the hackberry tree in my yard. I think that they’re a mealybug of some sort, but if anyone knows what these are for sure and how to treat them then please let me know. The tree is about 25 feet high so I hope there is a solution other than spraying. Warning: if you really don’t like creepy crawly things then you might want to skip this post. It isn’t a photography post so you won’t miss much. I was really interested in all sorts of creatures when I was little. I’d dig up worms and scout for interesting bugs. My mom even found me trying to pull a snake out of his hole once. Unfortunately, I’m not quite as fearless now, but I still think it’s really interesting what you can find when you just stop and look around. The culprit eating my tree is small and white, and it seems to be working its way in from the tips of the branches. It apparently produces these white cocoon looking things and then moves on to another spot. The white secretion seems to start around the head so I’m assuming it isn’t an egg sack, but I could be wrong. For all I know, this could be one bug eating the egg sack of another. The mobile white bugs themselves aren’t as easy to find as the white aftermath. I’m not sure what this is, but it looks like it’s making its own little white mess. I put it near one of the larger bugs for comparison.

Mealybug and Scale Insect Scale Insect

While looking for the white bugs, I ran into this little guy running up and down the branch. When he found one of the brown scales, he stopped and seemed to be eating it. He was also interested in the white aftermath. He looks a bit like a caterpillar, but it is very small and has little legs that it runs on (unlike a caterpillar). I got a shot of an ant running over him for size comparison.

Ladybird Larva Ladybird Larva

Hi Nancy,
You have quite an ecosystem thriving on your Hackberry Tree. The brown insect with the white mass appears to be an hermaphroditic female Scale Insect in the family Margarodidae. It does not however look like a Cottony Cushion Scale as depicted on BugGuide but might be a related species. Your white insect does appear to be a Mealybug, another plant pest. Your third insect looked to us like a Ladybird Beetle Larva, a predator that is probably feeding on some of the pests. When we checked on BugGuide, the match is a Twice Stabbed Ladybird, Chilocorus stigma. BugGuide has a great image of larva, pupa and adult Twice Stabbed ladybirds feeding on Scale Insects. We don’t give extermination advice. We would recommend a trip to a good local nursery and NOT using a broad band pesticide.

Letter 28 – Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Larva and Pupa


Subject: Potato Beetle? Location: Austin, TX April 8, 2014 9:46 pm Hello, These bugs have shown up in the last few days. We have had some heavy rains, and today was the first day of sunshine, so this might be why I haven’t noticed them until now. Some are reddish/orange and some are blue. They are the size of ladybugs but do not look like ladybugs. There are at least 300 of these bugs that have attached themselves to the fence in my backyard. We have recently planted our summer garden, full of vegetables and flowers, and I am worried these guys might start to munch, before I have a chance to! Please help!! Signature: Samantha G
Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Larva
Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Larva
lady beetle (aka Ladybug) larva and pupa
Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Pupa
Seven Spotted Lady Beetle Pupa
So these are not harmful to the garden, more helpful? Hi Samantha, Since you wrote back, we decided to spend a bit more time on both the identification and our response, and to create a posting.  With the number of requests we receive, we are only able to post a small fraction of emails and images, but we are able to respond to more with quick replies, like the original and very general answer you got from us.  We don’t immediately recognize all species upon viewing images, but we can give general answers that might only reach a broader taxonomic category.  Our original answer was to the family level, and we could have also supplied you with a quick second response that yes, your Lady Beetles are not harmful in the garden because they eat Aphids and other small plant pests.  Curiosity got the best of us though, and we decided to try to identify your species of Lady Beetle.  The larva is that of a Seven Spotted Lady Beetle, Coccinella septempunctata, as evidenced by this image on BugGuide.   Sadly, it is not a native species.  According to BugGuide:  “It has been repeatedly introduced in the US from Europe, to control aphids.  This widespread palearctic species was intentionally introduced into N. America several times from 1956 to 1971 for biological control of aphids. All of those attempts apparently failed in getting C. septempunctata established, but in 1973 an established population was found in Bergen Co., New Jersey. This population is thought to have been the result of an accidental introduction rather than a purposeful one (Angalet and Jacques, 1975). Since 1973, this species has spread naturally and been colonized and established in Delaware, Georgia, and Oklahoma. (Gordon 1985) It has since spread throughout N. Amer.”  We are not alone in fearing that native Lady Beetles are being rapidly displaced by other more vigorous introduced Lady Beetles, most notably the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles, Harmonia axyridis, which have become pests in some areas because they enter homes in great numbers to hibernate.  They are even known to prey upon native Lady Beetles.  Your Seven Spotted Lady Beetle, though introduced, is nowhere near the problem that the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle represents.  Your pupa is also that of a Seven Spotted Lady Beetle as evidenced by this image on BugGuide.  In your case, they are more beneficial than a problem in the garden.  The concept of introduced species displacing native species is a significant issue as global travel becomes ever easier for people and the critters that travel with them, either purposefully or accidentally. Thank you, I appreciate the response! Samantha  

Letter 29 – Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle: Imago, Pupae and Larva


A Black LadyBug with two red spots
Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle
A Black LadyBug with two red spots Location: Cheney, Kansas July 2, 2011 9:26 pm I found quite a large group of Black LadyBugs ,a few larvae, some unhatched pupae as well as hatched pupea on my Crabapple tree today. The Bugs have a red underbelly and are solid black except for the two red dots on their back. I’ve tried researching on-line and came up with ”Chilocorus kuwanae . No common name yet for these bugs. Signature: Chris Harris
Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle Pupae
Hi Chris, We are positively thrilled with your documentation of much of the life cycle of a Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle, Chilocorus kuwanae.  All of the stages of metamorphosis that you have documented match similar stages depicted on BugGuide which indicates it was “Introduced from Japan and Korea, originally to California as Chilocorus similis Rossi. Now established across North America.”  We needed to crop out your signature on the photos in order to increase the size of the insects in our posting.
Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle Larva

Letter 30 – Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle Larvae and Pupae


Subject: So Many of these Critters in our Tree! Location: Brownsville Texas November 28, 2013 8:02 pm Howdy from South Texas! I was with my folks on Thanksgiving day and we found hundreds of these critters bunched in large groups on our oak tree. At first we thought they were lady beetles in larvae form but now we’re not sure that’s the case! We have some interesting fights with pests in our garden throughout the year and we were wondering if we should be concerned about this insect or not or if it’s a beneficial critter. Thanks for your help! Signature: Mike in Brownsville
Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle Larvae and Pupae
Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle Larvae and Pupae
Howdy back at ya Mike, Your initial instincts were correct.  These sure look to us like the Larvae and Pupae of Twice Stabbed Lady Beetles in the genus Chilocorus, a group with spiny larvae.  Here is a matching photo from BugGuide.  According to BugGuide, they feed upon “Scale insects, especially in trees” and their preferred habitat is “Usually arboreal (in trees) where scale insects are found.”  A comment posted by Eric Eaton to BugGuide states:  “The larvae have the spiny appearance shown here, and the pupae are encased in the last, split larval skin.”  We have included a close crop of one of your photos, and lightened the image to show this feature.  So, you have a beneficial insect population feeding on Scale in the oaks.
Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle Pupa
Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle Pupa

Letter 31 – Twice Stabbed Lady Beetles, adults and larvae, from Japan


Subject: Any idea what bug these contain? Location: Mie-ken, Japan July 11, 2012 2:08 am Hi there! I found these little guys on the trees in my front garden this morning, and wondered if you have any idea what they are? Signature: Mark in Japan
Twice stabbed Lady Beetles
Hi Mark, These are beneficial insects.  They are the adults and larvae of some species of Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle in the genus Chilocorus, and they feed on Scale Insects that can do damage to many types of plants.  The closest match we could find was this image from FlickR of Chilocorus rubidus and that led us to this image on Zin.comSince we do not read Japanese, we are not certain why the Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle is pictured on the Welcome to the Ichneumonid World web page.  As an aside, according to BugGuide, one Japanese species and several other species from unknown locations belonging to this genus have been introduced to North America to control Scale Insects on agricultural crops.
Twice Stabbed Lady Beetle Larvae
Hi Daniel, Wow, thank you so much for such a quick response. I’m really please they are good guys, because I was concerned as the larvae ‘pods’ look kind of sinister! The pods are all over one tree, and the Lady Beetles are all over the leaves on the tree next to it. It’s quite an infestation! Thank you once again for your fast, informative and helpful response. Best regards, Mark.

Letter 32 – Two Spotted Stink Bug Nymph eats Ladybird Beetle Larva


Bug Identification Please
The following photo was taken a few days ago, in Northern Virginia, on a grapevine. The insect on the right appears to be a ladybug larvae. The unknown insect on the left was feeding on the larvae.

Hi John,
The unknown insect below (we rotated your image to conform to the aesthetics of our site) is an immature Two Spotted Stink Bug, Perillus bioculatus. BugGuide has a photo that shows more black on the nymph, but this species has some degree of variability. The Two Spotted Stink Bug is an important predator of the Colorado Potato Beetle, but sadly, in your example, it has eaten another predator, a Ladybird Beetle Larva. We have gotten numerous recent identification requests for the Ladybird Larvae, but the photos have been blurry. It is nice to be able to post your crisp and dramatic image.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

44 thoughts on “How To Recognize Ladybug Larva: Tiny Alligators in The Yard”

  1. This is larva of invasive Harmonia axyridis. Of course, it IS poisonous. For ants and other small creatures. Try to put it on you tongue, close your mouth but do not chew. You will feel the bitter taste of alkaloids.

  2. My husband thinks he was bitten by a bug simular to this. Coloring is different, the one we saw was tan, white & black, not so spiky.Very small
    I know this isn’t much help ( he killed it before I could take a picture )
    He described it as looking like a scorpian with out a tail. I thought it look prehistoric.
    If you can think of any other very small inscets that look simular lease help
    Bitten by ??

  3. OMG thank you I have a ton of these on my bush in my yard and this is the only site that has them on it. I was freaking out not knowing what they were and why they are there. I hope they do not try to get inside the house.

  4. hi I was wondering where this beetle originally comes from as I have never seen one in the UK before and was curious as I seen it eating a small green spider

    • Hii i just saw this comment and i had the urge to reply! I live in the uk and actually found one today! i put it in this container (with air holes) and its moving xDD But yeah it can bite but yeah xDD Its really cute but kinda scary.

  5. these lady beetle lava are eating my purple hull peas vines and peas are cover in a black don’t know what that is either live in west Tennessee how to get rid of them I have never seen these before

  6. I have been bitten x 2 by this larva! The bite is painful and close to a bee sting but doesn’t last as long. It leaves a pretty big bright red sore and takes a couple of weeks to heal. They are vicious!

    I live in Northern CA

  7. I have been bitten x 2 by this larva! The bite is painful and close to a bee sting but doesn’t last as long. It leaves a pretty big bright red sore and takes a couple of weeks to heal. They are vicious!

    I live in Northern CA

  8. Lady Beetle larvae is much like the native species found through the United States. They are small, hemispherical in shape, and can be found with and without spots. Their colors may vary from black, and orange to a dull cream. However, unlike the native species, this lady beetle larvae can be quite aggressive. Masses of lady beetle larvae have been known to swarm and even bite when seeking shelter for the winter months. In this regard, they have been an unwelcome guest for homeowners that don’t find them to be good luck at all, but rather a nuisance.


  9. Lady Beetle larvae is much like the native species found through the United States. They are small, hemispherical in shape, and can be found with and without spots. Their colors may vary from black, and orange to a dull cream. However, unlike the native species, this lady beetle larvae can be quite aggressive. Masses of lady beetle larvae have been known to swarm and even bite when seeking shelter for the winter months. In this regard, they have been an unwelcome guest for homeowners that don’t find them to be good luck at all, but rather a nuisance.


  10. I was bitten by a tiny one today on my hand ( about the size of a sesame seed). I definetly noticed! Wouldn’t want a bigger one to bite. It stung, but didn’t leave a mark. Not going to lie, I smushed it! It was tiny, but creepy and it was biting me.

  11. I have found about a dozen in my garden and want to get rid of then they seem to be doing damage to flower buds I have used a bug spray but am still finding them

  12. I started looking into this since I saw that my parent’s cherry tree is not giving any fruit this year. Notice there is some plague and saw these little critter on the leaves. At first I thought they were the plagues, as I read more I found out they are eating the aphids eggs, is this a correct statement?
    Also, are the cannibalistic when there is lack of food? I saw a smaller larvae run into a bigger one, the big one clamped on the small one and started eating from the looks of it. A second one stopped by a little later and joined the feast.

  13. I started looking into this since I saw that my parent’s cherry tree is not giving any fruit this year. Notice there is some plague and saw these little critter on the leaves. At first I thought they were the plagues, as I read more I found out they are eating the aphids eggs, is this a correct statement?
    Also, are the cannibalistic when there is lack of food? I saw a smaller larvae run into a bigger one, the big one clamped on the small one and started eating from the looks of it. A second one stopped by a little later and joined the feast.

  14. I have a ton of them in my tree and all over my front porch. Do I just leave them alone and let them do their thing?

  15. i have lots of ladybugs larva on my fruit bearing cherry tree , they are also covering my garden orniments lots of them, why have they gone onto my garden orniments as well as the tree?

  16. I was bitten a couple days ago by what I believe to be this lady bug larvae. There is no bite mark or redness but the area around it is still numb. I can understand a bite to cause paralysis in another small insect but my thigh has been numb for a couple days now following bite. Should I worry?

  17. I want to buy “Twice Stabbed Lady Beetles” (or their eggs), or other benificial bugs that eat (attack) Cottony Scales. Can anybody help?

    • That is correct. Lady Beetles like all other beetles undergo complete metamorphosis with four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult Beetle.

  18. I have several of these Lady Asian Bugs on my apple tree found them as my Leaves were all curling up in a tube, so i sprayed them with a drop of washing up liq in a pint of water, this seemed to help the Leaves, and killed the above bugs??? “Result”

  19. They seem to be very interested in my Rose Of Sharon and they share it with lots of ants lately. One of my sharons from the same root has recently died is this the cause of the lady beetle Are they destructive to vegetation such as plants or flowers?

  20. I’m very late to the game n just read the info on here, I’m in central florida n its march 20, I’ve been seeing them for the last week n I was freaking out over them. I like ladybugs but this takes the cake. I live in an apartment n I’ve seen them on my balcony, but I have no idea where they’re coming from. I have no flowers n the only thing is a palm tree on the side of my balcony. Its weird …Asian lady beetle larvae in fl in spring? What’s going on?

  21. I live in NJ in the USA. I discovered these larvae swarming my front steps and was bitten a couple of times. I found that spraying down my steps and garden plants with a solution of orange oil in water cause them to disappear. Don’t know if it killed them or just drove them away, but it worked.

    Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin from a half dozen oranges and boil in 2 cups of plain water until reduced by about 1/3. Put in a spray bottle and spray around where you see the larvae. It won’t hurt plants, as it’s a natural repellent and I didn’t find it did any damage to my steps/railings. Hope this helps!

  22. I live in London, UK and have found Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetle larva on my apple tree. Does this mean that there are aphids on my tree or do the Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetles feed on something else?
    Any information will be appreciated.


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