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How to Photograph Lady Bugs

Updated on March 16, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.


CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Facts about Ladybugs

However, like many insect species , they can come in several shades and a different coloration such as the 22 spot ladybug with a typically yellow shell and, you guessed it, 22 small black spots.

Must ladybugs are beneficial insects which usually feed on other insects that can damage flowers as well as other crops.

They will usually not fly at night so doing a shoot at this time is best if you feel that you need to spend a lot of time observing and photographing them, but off course a ring flash and a tripod will be needed.

If you buy them it is preferable to set the closed container in the garden at least a couple of hours before you release them. Note; the spot needs to be away from direct sunshine and preferably cool.

Once you open the lid they will mostly crawl out and begin to fly short distances if at dusk.

They will usually set around leaves of nearby plants as they do not have any particular one that they prefer. If any insect food source is nearby most likely they will begin to feed immediately.

Ladybugs information

Ladybugs are very interesting and usually very colorful. Their mostly red shell along with its share of small black spots makes them very photogenic subjects. The best thing is that you can usually approach them quite closely and photograph them extensively. even if you find it hard to locate suitable subjects, you can usually buy small tubs of them at most garden supply stores and even through the mail.

"The Coccinellidae are a family of small beetles, ranging from 1 to 10 mm (0.04 to 0.4 inches). They are commonly yellow, orange, or scarlet with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, heads and antennae. Such colour patterns vary greatly, however; for example, a minority of species, such as Vibidia duodecimguttata, a twelve-spotted species, have whitish spots on a brown background. Coccinellids are found worldwide, with over 5,000 species described,[3] more than 450 native to North America alone.

Coccinellidae are known colloquially as ladybirds (in Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth), ladybugs (originating in North America) or lady cows, among other names.[4] When they need to use a common name, entomologists widely prefer the names ladybird beetles or lady beetles[5] as these insects are not true bugs.

The Coccinellidae are generally considered useful insects, because many species feed on aphids or scale insects, which are pests in gardens, agricultural fields, orchards, and similar places. Within the colonies of such plant-eating pests, they will lay hundreds of eggs, and when these hatch the larvae will commence feeding immediately."Wikipedia

Coccinellidae, ladybugs or ladybirds in Britain are a family of small insects, ranging from 1 to 10 mm and can be found in yellow, orange, or scarlet with small black spots on their shells. Their legs, heads and antennas, legs are mostly black.

Their color schemes can vary from region to region. For example, a minor species, such as Vibidia duodecimguttata, which usually has 12 spots, has white spots on a brown shell. These insects are usually found all over the world and the coccinellidae family has an estimated range of over 5,000 species.

Most common types

The most common ladybug is the 7 spotted one with a bright red shell and the usual 7 small black spots. These are rather common in most parts of the United States and can regularly be found feeding on aphids, mealybugs, leaf hoppers, scales and mites which prey of new flower blooms.

Attracting ladybugs to your garden should not be that difficult as they like several flowering plants as well as herbs. Some of the most common feeding plants are cilantro, dill, fennel, caraway, yarrow, tansy, angelica, scented geraniums, coreopsis and cosmos are typically good plant choices for luring the ladybug to your garden.

Many insects like sweet fruits and ladybugs seem specially adept at locating them. Placing a container with raisins always seems to bring them in to my garden as well as rotting bananas and sometimes slices of rotting pineapples. The added benefit is that these lures will also attract a large number of other insects such as butterflies, flies and bees. Just keep the lure set up away from direct sunlight.

To photograph them I usually suggest a macro capable zoom so that I do not have to physically stand very close to them. However during a cold spell, these insects like most all others will slow their metabolism down and will remain in place for hours making your photography that much easier.

Because of their small size a good close up is usually needed to capture most of the details including parts of the head. If you catch them while they are feeding it makes the photographs that much more interesting.

22 Spot ladybug/Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Can you find ladybugs where you live?

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Photo tips

Shots that are worthwhile capturing are when these insects conglomerate such as near mineral rich deposits.

Like most other insects they seek these deposits to satisfy some of their dietary needs that cannot be otherwise obtained.

Try to do your photography during the cooler parts of the day for two main reasons; first, the ladybugs will be more passive and will tend not to fly away if you approach them and second, during the hotter parts of the day the light is usually harsher and can create harsh lighting conditions such as hot spots which will show on your photographs.

The early morning or early dusk are usually the best times to do any type of photography and for ladybugs and most other insect photography this holds true.

Black spots lady bugs, the most common

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

How to attract them

Not all ladybugs feed only on insects, there are some species that feed on pollen just like honey bees and plant material.

One particular species the Tytthaspis sedecimpunctata is one such specimen and can be found happily indulging on flower pollen.

Like many of its cousins, it is slow to react when approached and can be photographed at ease, specially during the cooler parts of the day.

To attract this species and many other pollen feeding varieties make sure to have flowers that produce ample supplies of pollen and are easily accessible by these small insects.



Other tips

Something to keep in mind although not a major issue with most insect photography is that ladybugs have a skeleton which is very reflective and hot spots will tend to become visible in the resulting images.

When doing macro shots pay attention to light reflection and if necessary adjust your angle or use a white cardboard to shield the insect from the harsh light.

Working with an assistant or having the set up ready where you think the lady bugs will congregate is usually the best practice.

Hippodamia notata

(CC BY-SA 2.0
(CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

What to do next

After you are finished with your ladybug photography, then it's time to decide upon which route to take with them.

Many calendar companies as well as naturalist publications are prone to using images such as these and if the images are well done and show compelling details selling them should not be that difficult.

Also remember that ladybugs are quite beautiful and their images can be used by many other applications.

They are very good images to use as freestanding samples, and applicable for a book as well.

Just make sure to secure submission guidelines and try to include information about each species and location facts to make it easier for editors to consider your work..

Tytthaspis sedecimpunctat

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida

      mbgphoto: thank you

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      How very interesting. I knew about the red and black ladybugs but I've never seen any of the others. Thanks for all of the great information.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Greensleeveshubs: Thank you

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

      Charming page Luis about one of the most popular of little insects particularly with children. And a subject well worth photographing, tho' I know from my own experience it isn't that easy because the little round bodies mean that the depth of focus is quite small the closer in one goes. It can be hard to get the whole insect and vegetation in focus.

      As you say, here in Britain we call them ladybirds and the most common species are the large 7-spotted and smaller 2-spotted red ladybirds, tho' we also have yellow colour varieties and recently an aggressive introduced species called the Harlequin Ladybird has become quite a pest, taking over from the native species in many places.

      Voted up. Alun.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      sallybea: Thank you

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      One of my favorite little creatures to photograph.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      frogyfish: Thank you

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

      For a few years now I have seen mostly orange I have begun to see the red ones again this year. I do enjoy watching them...they are interesting little 'bugs'. It is funny when they scoot to hide under branches away from you as you try to take their photo.

      Job well accomplished enjoyable read, and video was nice!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      easylearningweb: Thanks. Yes, some people think they bring good luck.

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 4 years ago

      I heard ladybugs are good luck and it's best to set them free. Nice photos!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      tamron: Glad you didn't. Thanks

    • tamron profile image

      tamron 4 years ago

      I almost killed a ladybug that landed on me because of reflex. I am glad I saw that it was a ladybug before I smacked it. Nice Images

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      thoughtfulgirl2: they are found mostly in Europe. See the last link on page for more information

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

      thoughtfulgirl2 4 years ago from East Coast

      Just also wanted to say that I was intrigued by the variety of ladybug called tytthaspis sedesimpunctat, I may use his unique pattern and color in my ladybug pins. Are they an east coast ladybug, a west coast ladybug, canadien ladybug or southern ladybug? If you have children or grandchildren, they may have fun making ladybug pins. Feel free to visit my hub on brooches made from avocado seeds

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      thoughtfulgirl2: Yes they are. Thanks

    • thoughtfulgirl2 profile image

      thoughtfulgirl2 4 years ago from East Coast

      They are wonderful little bugs, aren't they?