Coleomegilla maculata

Geographic Range

Coleomegilla maculata, commonly known as spotted lady beetles or 12-spotted lady beetles, are found throughout North, Central, and South America. Their range extends from California to Mexico and their range stretches to Cuba. The three subspecies Coleomegilla maculata lengi, Coleomegilla maculata strenua, and Coleomegilla maculata fubscilabris live in different areas. C.m. lengi is found throughout most of the eastern United States, except for New England and Florida. C.m. strenua is found from Texas to southern California. C.m. fubscilabris is found in Florida and the parts of the Gulf Coast. (Gordon, 1985; Krafsur and Obrycki, 2000; Morales-Ramos and Rojas, 2017; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)


Spotted lady beetles prefer moist habitats. They are most commonly found on their host plants, which include crops like corn, hophornbeam copperleaf, and less commonly wheat, sorghum, alfalfa, soybeans, cotton, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, asparagus, and apples. (Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

Physical Description

Spotted lady beetles are oval-shaped, pink to red in color, and have six black spots on each of their wings. Their pronotums are pinkish or yellowish and have two triangular spots. Their heads are black with one pink or red triangular spot. Larvae are dark brown in color and have orange markings. They have three sets of legs. Adult lady spotted beetles are 5-6 millimeters in length. Larvae are up to 9 millimeters in length. (Gordon, 1985)

There are three subspecies of spotted lady beetles: C.m. lengi, C.m. strenua, and C.m. fubscilabris. These subspecies can be differentiated based on spot patterns, body size, color, and genitalia. C.m. lengi is between 4.2 and 6.6 mm in length, C.m. strenua is 6.4-7.0 mm, and C.m. fubscilabris is between 4.0 to 5.7 mm long. (Gordon, 1985; Rondon, et al., 2006)

There are three subspecies of spotted lady beetles: C.m. lengi, C.m. strenua, and C.m. fubscilabris. These subspecies can be told apart by their spot patterns, body size, and color. C.m. lengi is between 4.2 and 6.6 mm in length, C.m. strenua is 6.4-7.0 mm, and C.m. fubscilabris is between 4.0 to 5.7 mm long. (Gordon, 1985; Rondon, et al., 2006)

  • Range length
    5 to 6 mm
    0.20 to 0.24 in


Larvae go through four instars of development. During their fourth instar, they pupate and undergo metamorphosis. Pupation lasts from 3-13 days. The length of the pupal stage depends on temperature. There are between two and five generations of spotted lady beetle per year. The final generation of the year will mate and then overwinter. The females lay their eggs after they emerge in the spring. (Sheldon, 2020)


Spotted lady beetles utilize sexual reproduction and internal fertilization. Female spotted lady beetles may oviposit on the lower part of corn plants. They also oviposit near corn fields on hophornbeam copperleaf and various weeds. Spotted lady beetles prefer to lay eggs on hosts with glandular trichomes. Egg-laying begins in the spring and continues on until the summer. They may lay anywhere from 200 to 1,000 eggs over a period of three months. (Sheldon, 2020; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

  • Range eggs per season
    200 to 1000

Spotted lady beetles do not utilize parental investment.

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


Adults can be found from April until late September. They are most common near the end of September. There are between two to five generations of spotted lady beetles per year. (Sheldon, 2020)


Adults predate diurnally, while larvae feed diurnally and nocturnally. Adults climb up their host plants to feed during the morning hours and climb back down during the afternoon. (Morales-Ramos and Rojas, 2017; Sheldon, 2020)

Communication and Perception

Spotted lady beetles mostly communicate through pheromones. They use visual, tactile, and chemical senses of perception. (Zhu, et al., 1999)

Food Habits

Spotted lady beetles primarily eat aphids, whiteflies, mites, butterflies and moths eggs and larvae, leaf beetle eggs and larvae, and spider mites. Up to 50% of their diet can be made up of pollen. Larvae may cannibalize other larvae of their species. (Gordon, 1985; Rondon, et al., 2006)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • pollen


The larvae of spotted lady beetles may cannibalize each other. A species of tachinid fly (Hyalmyodes triangulifer) attacks larvae of spotted lady beetles. One species of braconid wasp (Perilitus coccinellae) attacks adult, larval, and pupal spotted lady beetles. (Frank and Mizell III, 2014; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

  • Known Predators
    • Other larvae (Coleomegilla maculata)

Ecosystem Roles

Spotted lady flies are important predators of crop pests like aphids. Since their diet can consist of up to 50% pollen, they may pollinate plants as they move from one to another. (Sheldon, 2020)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Spotted lady beetles are well known for their predation on crop pests, such as aphids, whiteflies, mites, butterflies and moths eggs and larvae, leaf beetle eggs and larvae, and spider mites. They can be used to reduce pest populations in agriculture. Spotted lady beetles may also pollinate the plants they visit. (Gordon, 1985; Rondon, et al., 2006; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

  • Positive Impacts
  • pollinates crops
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Spotted lady flies have no known negative economic impact. (Staley and Yeargan, 2005)

Conservation Status

Spotted lady beetles are not endangered.

Other Comments

Coleomegilla maculata are commonly known as spotted lady beetles or 12-spotted lady beetles. (Frank and Mizell III, 2014; Staley and Yeargan, 2005)


Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


a period of time when growth or development is suspended in insects and other invertebrates, it can usually only be ended the appropriate environmental stimulus.


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


uses sight to communicate


Cruz, I., M. de Lourdes Corrêa Figueiredo, W. de Souza Tavares. 2010. Development of Coleomegilla maculata de Geer (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) With Prey and Artificial Diet. Revista Brasileira de Milho e Sorgo, 9(1): 13-26. Accessed October 05, 2020 at

Frank, H., R. Mizell III. 2014. "common name: ladybirds, lady beetles, ladybugs [of Florida] scientific name: (Insecta: Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)" (On-line). Featured Creatures. Accessed October 14, 2020 at

Gordon, R. 1985. The Coccinellidae (Coleoptera) of America North of Mexico. Journal of the New York Entomological Society, 93(1): 698-702.

Krafsur, E., J. Obrycki. 2000. Coleomegilla maculata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) is a Species Complex. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 93(5): 1156-1163. Accessed October 05, 2020 at[1156:CMCCIA]2.0.CO;2.

Morales-Ramos, J., M. Rojas. 2017. Temperature-Dependent Biological and Demographic Parameters of Coleomegilla maculata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Journal of Insect Science, 17(2): 55.


Sheldon, A. 2020. "Coleomegilla maculata" (On-line). Biological Control, A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America. Accessed October 08, 2020 at

Staley, A., K. Yeargan. 2005. Oviposition Behavior of Coleomegilla maculata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae): Diel Periodicity and Choice of Host Plants. Environmental Entomology, 34(2): 440-445. Accessed October 05, 2020 at

Zhu, J., A. Cossé, J. Obrycki, K. Boo, T. Baker. 1999. Olfactory Reactions of the Twelve-Spotted Lady Beetle, Coleomegilla maculata and the Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea to Semiochemicals Released from Their Prey and Host Plant: Electroantennogram and Behavioral Responses. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 25(5): 1163-1177.