Convergent lady beetle (Hippodamia convergens)

    The life span of the lady beetle is one year.  Eggs which are laid in the spring develop into darkish gray larvae with orange spots.  These soft-bodied, carrot-shaped, spiny larvae appear quite unlike the round, hard-bodied adults, yet both have a voracious appetite for aphids.  It has been claimed that convergent lady beetle is capable of eating more than 50 aphids a day when actively feeding.
    The pupa of H. convergens, as is typical of coccinellids, does not spin a cocoon, but is naked.  It attaches to a leaf by cementing the tip of its abdomen to the leaf.  When disturbed, the pupa lifts its body to a vertical position, then drops back again.
    New adult beetles appear during the first week in June.  They are active crawlers and fliers and can disperse nearly 5 miles in as little as three days.  Throughout spring and autumn, adults are abundant in the fields.  However, as winter approaches they migrate to the mountains where they congregate in large numbers prior to winter hibernation.
    For about 9 months while in the mountains, the adults do not feed but live off stored fat.  The ability to undergo long periods of fasting under cool temperatures has allowed man to conveniently store H. convergens under refrigeration (41 to 46 degrees F) for months.

Availability: These need to be ordered and will be available after spring break.

Housing: You can rear your ladybugs in a plastic or glass jar, or in a petri dish.  Add a piece of moist paper towel to the bottom of your container to keep humidity up.  Replace the paper towel piece whenever it dries up.  You should cover the container with a mesh screen lid to allow air flow.  Provide drinking water to your ladybugs by soaking a cotton ball in water and placing in your container.  Give them leaves and twigs to climb on, and cover the bottom with sand or dirt to support the twigs.  You can feed them sugar as well by placing a cotton ball soaked in a 10% sugar solution in the container as well.  They like to climb and hide, so you could add half a paper cup, or part of an egg carton if you container is large enough.

Food:  Ladybugs will eat aphids.  Moth eggs or a diet mix will also come with the order so you may feed your beetles on that if you are unable to locate a supply of aphids.