Ladybird Beetle Rearing

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Ladybird Beetle Needs

Rearing Habitat

  • Clear shoe box, gallon container, aquarium or other container that makes observation easy
  • Egg carton, paper towels or paper towel tubes
  • Small cap with cotton ball for honey water
  • Secure lid with limited air exchange

In a natural situation, ladybird beetles eat aphids. If you have a plant covered with aphids, place the beetles on the plant. Enclosing the plant in a screened box or making a sleeve to cover the branch will prevent the beetles from flying away. Aphids may be difficult to obtain. The beetles will survive for a couple days with honey water in cotton.

With the honey water in the cotton, the ladybird beetles will get enough water. The beetles will survive a couple days longer if the container is humid. Prevent evaporation by using a lid with small holes. The container should not be soggy.

Taking Care
The beetles will live for only a couple of days. Remove dead beetles and keep the container free of excrement by wiping down the sides of the container with damp paper towel.

Gently hold the beetles between your thumb and forefinger. The beetles can easily be squeezed to death, but they will warn you when you have gone too far by secreting an amber fluid.

Raising Young
The beetles may lay eggs in the container. Raising ladybird beetles is time consuming and difficult since the larvae are active and voracious predators of aphids and scale insects. It is not recommended to try raising the beetles in the classroom without a constant source of aphids. Eggs can be placed outside on plants with aphids.

Other Concerns
Special Considerations
The beetles may be very agitated in the container since they are searching for more food and space. The beetles will readily take flight. Escapes are likely when the lid is removed for cleaning or to gather insects for the lesson. Place the container in a refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to slow down the beetles if they are too fast to handle. Plan to observe the ladybird beetles soon after you acquire them. They will live only a few days and their behavior will change over time since it is difficult to supply a proper diet.

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Lesson Plans Information Sheets Rearing Sheets Bibliography
Center for Insect Science Education Outreach The University of Arizona
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