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The little world of ladybirds
Adalia bipunctata  

The ladybird is a big friend of the garden and is a notorious predator. Welcome to its world.

With its 6 legs, the ladybird is an insect. It is part of the insect order Coleoptera, the beetles, and part of the insect family Coccinellidae. Like all beetles, its fore wings (elytrae) are more rigid and form an armour for the protection of the membranous hind wings, responsible for the flight. There are about 300 species in Europe, varying in size from 1 to 10 mm and identifiable by color and patterns on the elytrae. In the same species the patterns can be very different and can make identification very difficult. In particular in Adalia bipunctata where there exists a red form with 2 black dots and a black form with red dots. In contrary to the belief, the number of dots do not correspond to the age of the ladybird.

Before becoming a ladybird, the beetle must pass 4 stages:

1. The egg, which will hatch after 5 days.
2. The larva, who grows during 10 to 15 days and will moult 3 times.
3. The pupa, who is immobile and will transform in 6 to 8 days.
4. The adult beetle who can lay eggs after 1 to 3 weeks.


In general eggs are laid in clutches in spring or the start of summer. They are mostly slender elliptic in shape and of a bright yellow or orange color. An Adalia bipunctata female can lay 20 to 50 eggs per day during 2 weeks. They can be found on twigs or leaves, infested with aphids.

After hatching the larva eats the egg shell and the non-hatched eggs in its clutch. Afterwards it will start searching for aphids. Its search for aphids is guided by contact and smell and not by sight, because the larva is blind. While moulting it attaches itself and stays immobile for a couple of hours.

When in the pupa stage (1), the most immobile stage, the ladybird is transforming inside the pupal case.

After 6 to 8 days the adult beetle will rip open the pupal hide and crawl out. At first it will be completely yellow. Then it will look for a place to hide to rest and let its wings harden. After a few hours the color and the pattern will appear. In this stage only 20 % of the young beetles survive.

Ladybirds probe their world with their antennae. They seize their prey with their mandibles (2). They can devour up to 90 aphids per day but in the larval stages they are the most voracious: larvae can eat up to 150 aphids per day!
In September/October the adult ladybirds search for a place to hibernate, which can differ depending on the species. Adalia bipunctata likes brick walls, windowsills or small crevices in tree bark, where they “hide out” with tens of their fellow adults. During winter mortality is high. It can depend on the severeness of the winter, whether or not spring is early, availability of food and the presence of parasites.

(1) Pupa: noun (fem.) Immobile stage in insects where transformation from larva to adult is performed.

(2) Mandibles: noun (fem.) from the Latin mandere, macerate. In man and other Vertebrates: the bone of the lower jaw. In insects, Crustaceans and Myriapodes (millipedes) : pair of outer mouthparts before maxillae (inner mouthparts)



Biological control (or integrated control)

Adalia bipunctata (larvae)


An especially effective weapon against aphids.

Adalia bipunctata is a predator, indigenous to Europe. It is notorious because the adults can devour up to 90 aphids each day.

But the larvae are even more voracious: they can eat more than 150 aphids each day! Adalia is used against several aphid species and in different plant cultures.

Ladybird larvae are used in aphid control in ornamental plants and fruit and vegetable production.

In Europe there are about 800 different aphid species, each different in size and color. Aphids attack practically all plants. They suck the plant juices and excrete a sweet, sticky liquid, called honeydew on which a black mold can develop: sooty mold.

Aphids can affect the life force of plants and are the source of several plant diseases and cosmetic damage. Aphids have several natural enemies, the “garden auxiliaries”. These auxiliaries are mainly predators and parasitoids.

The predators are mainly ladybirds (larvae and adults), hover flies (larvae) and lacewings (larvae). Parasitoids are tiny wasps who lay their eggs in the aphids' living bodies.

And let us not forget the birds, particularly tits, who are efficient aphid predators as well.

But, despite their undeniable efficiency, natural enemies sometimes have trouble coping with the exponential growth of aphid colonies when climatic conditions are favorable. Biological control with indigenous ladybirds ADALIA consists of supporting natural enemy populations and their settling in the garden. Biological aphid control thus is achieved naturally.

Applications :
Adalia bipunctata is an indigenous ladybird. It is found naturally throughout Europe. It is thus found in a relatively large number of habitats and feeds on several aphid species. It prefers relative sunny and dry conditions, characteristic for places where vegetation is short and less dense.

That is why Adalia bipunctata is a regular visitor of vegetable gardens, fields and flowerbeds. It can be used in greenhouse as well as open air cultures, in gardens (roses, shrubs, annuals), vegetable gardens and orchards.

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