Ladybirds are beetles that have two characteristics that distinguish them from other similar insects, and they are; hard fore-wings (elytra) that cover the abdomen, and biting mouth parts.
They feed on aphids and reproduce from the spring and into the summer.
Mating and breeding generally begins in May, but is dependant on the weather and in most cases the presence of food.
In June / July mated females will lay up to as many as 1000 eggs (around 20-50 eggs daily) which hatch into immature 12mm (½")larvae.
Many species prey on only aphids but some specialise in eating scale insects, red spider mites or even powdery mildew spores.
The new generation of adult ladybirds emerge in August from the pupae.
These new adults feed but do not mate until the following spring.
In the autumn, they look for hibernating homes in which to over-winter.
The Ladybird adults overwinter often in large groups in any place they can find that is dry and if possible out of the wind.
It is now possible to purchase habitats suited for this purpose.