Friday, August 22, 2008

Ladybugs Transforming

A few weeks ago I was taking the compost out to the composter, and noticed some strange bugs on the tree next to the garden.  They were orange and black and attached to the leaves.  I looked closer, and realized they were the remains of a ladybug that had transformed from the larvae stage to the adult stage.  I looked some more, and found various stages of the ladybug life cycle in evidence on the tree.  The ladybugs begin as eggs (I didn't see any of those) and then hatch into larvae.  These alligator-like critters rove around eating aphids.  They stay in this phase for up to three weeks, then they attach themselves to a leaf or other substrate to enter the pupa phase.  During the next few days, the ladybugs will change into their adult form, and then the back of the pupa will split, revealing the hard shell of the familiar adult.  The life cycle begins again.

I was thrilled to see the ladybug pupa in person for the first time.  It was amazing to me to see so many different stages on the same tree.  I showed Gabriel, too, and explained the cycle to him.  How cool it is to have a back yard to experience so many of nature's wonders!

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