Brooke Walsh, of Balclutha Primary School, asks :-

What colour are ladybird's eggs?

John Marris, the curator of the Entomology Research Museum at Lincoln University, responded.

Your question is not a very easy one to answer because there is not much known about ladybird eggs and I have had to do some research to find out about them. It seems that ladybird eggs can come in a range of colours, from white and yellow through to red (see photo a and b). Different types of ladybirds lay differently coloured eggs. The eggs are usually rounded or oval (like a hen’s egg) in shape and mostly with a smooth surface. The eggs can be laid on their own or in groups of up to 100. Experiments with some types of ladybirds show they can lay up to about 1000 eggs in their lifetimes.

Once the eggs hatch a ladybird larva emerges (see photo c). These grow and go through several moulting stages where they shed their skin. Then they go into a pupa, which is the same stage as for the chrysalis of a butterfly, before finally emerging as an adult ladybird.

Ladybirds aren’t birds of course! They are beetles. Many of them are brightly coloured to warn predators that they are poisonous. Many of the bright red and black ladybirds that you see were brought to New Zealand to help control pest insects, which they like to eat. There are about 50 different sorts of ladybirds found in New Zealand. Most of these aren’t very colourful at all and are dull brown or black.