Ladybugs are quite popular among garden insects. These red small round insects are also known as Lady Beetles or Ladybird Beetles. Though the red species is the most common, ladybugs can also be of different colors like yellow, orange, and black.
Wondering how ‘ladybugs’ got their name?
The name Ladybug was first coined by village farmers who discovered that these insects can protect crops by keeping pests away.
Ladybugs were believed to be the good luck charms of farmers because their presence meant a safe harvest and no pest attacks.
Ladybugs are best known for their amazing appetite for plant pests – but did you know that they also enjoy a healthy diet of nectar and pollen?
They’re even attracted to sweet liquids… Most of us know that Ladybugs are farmers’ best friends but did you know what Ladybugs eat? Let’s quickly explore:
Table of Contents
What do they eat?
Here is a list of what Ladybugs eat and information you may find useful:
- Aphids: Most ladybugs gather and feed on aphids, tiny winged insects that are known as garden pests. This is true for all locations, habitats, and most species of ladybugs. This is why in the United States, online retailers and gardening suppliers sell live ladybirds to control aphids. If you’re unfamiliar with the species of ladybugs available in your area, it’s a good idea to do some research.
- Mites: Some Ladybug species, like the American black-veined white (LBV), have a taste for Mites, tiny arachnids that belong to the spider and tick family. Because Mites are difficult to detect owing to their minute size, they cause significant damage to vegetable growers. A single ladybug can consume up to 75 or 100 Mites each day and preserve acres of gardens.
- Mealybugs: Originating from the Pseudococcidae family, Mealybugs are tiny insects that live in moist, warm habitats. Subtropical trees, house plants, and greenhouse plant juices are the main eating sources of Mealybugs. Keeping Lady bugs in your garden can reduce the chances of Mealybugs infestation.
- Insect eggs: Ladybugs feed on the eggs and larvae of a variety of insects. It implies that having Ladybugs in your yard will assist you in reducing insect and pest development to some degree.
- Plants: Be aware, that lady bugs also consume a variety of plants, including garlic, dill, fennel, cilantro, yarrow, caraway, angelica, tansy, coreopsis and scented geraniums.
- Fungi: Fungi are eukaryotic organisms and the most common types of fungi are mushrooms, yeasts, and molds. If you want to attract Ladybugs in your garden, including fungi can be a good idea.
- Mildew: It’s another kind of fungus or mold that’s often found in house gardens. Ladybugs can eat mildew and help gardeners ensure healthy plant growth.
- Fruit Flies: Ladybugs can survive on fruit flies and hence can protect the ripened fruits in your garden.
- Pollen: Pollen or the powdery substance of trees is a common food for some Ladybug species.
- Nectar: Nectar or the sweet liquid secreted from flowers is also a food for adult Ladybugs.
How do Ladybugs hunt for food?
Ladybugs usually hunt their food in a very interesting way. They can sense their food with the help of their antennae.
As we already know, Aphids are the most common food for Ladybugs. Since Aphids are slow-moving, wingless bugs, the hunting process of Ladybugs isn’t too difficult. They don’t need to hide and wait for their victim as they can simply fly in, find an area full of Aphids, and enjoy their meal.
Though Aphids can use gravity and fall off plant leaves, Ladybugs fly and find them easily. This is how most Ladybug species across the globe hunt and munch on Aphids.
Now that you know how Ladybugs hunt, you must be wondering how much a Ladybug can eat a day.
How much can a Ladybug eat?
Ladybugs have a lifespan of about one to two years. A ladybug can consume up to 5,000 Aphids and other insects during its life. That is equivalent to 50 Aphids each day for a Ladybug.
Just like the other insects and animals, Ladybugs remain less active during the night. Hence, they consume entire food for the day before it gets dark.
Does a newborn Ladybug consume as much as an adult Ladybug, though? Let’s take a look!
What does a baby Ladybug eat?
Mother Ladybugs usually lay eggs in areas full of Aphids. It means that when they hatch their ladybug larvae, the source of food is easily available to them. When a larva is hatched, it starts eating surrounding Aphids right away.
In the larval stage of a few weeks, it can consume a huge number of Aphids. It can be about 200-400 Aphids over the span of 2-3 weeks. When it enters the pupal stage and then grows into an adult, the number reduces to 50-60 Aphids per day.
Now that you know what a Ladybug eats, you must be curious to know what eats a Ladybug.
What eats Ladybugs?
Though Ladybugs with their bright colors and black spots look wonderful, they stink. The glands of the Ladybugs are found in their joints, which is the reason for such an awful smell. For this reason, most predators think they must be tasting awful and it’s better to spare them.
However, some predators still feed on Ladybugs and the most common ones are birds. In some habitats, frogs, spiders, and dragonflies also hunt and eat Ladybugs.
The Space Experiment
In 1999, NASA scientists performed an experiment with the eating habits of Ladybugs. 4 Ladybugs along with some Aphids were sent to space with a group of astronauts. The purpose was to see whether the zero-gravity environment affects the eating habits of Ladybugs as the Aphids won’t be able to escape easily.
In this experiment, no change was seen in the eating habits as the Ladybugs ate the Aphids and survived successfully.
Now that you know what a Ladybug would eat and how it’ll survive, go ahead and welcome a local species into your garden. Ladybugs can be your friend in eating Aphids and other harmful pests naturally.
Moreover, they look fantastic and are often loved by children. Though Ladybugs may eat a few plant parts, they won’t do much harm to your garden. If you treat your garden Ladybugs with kindness, they’ll surely repay you maximum satisfaction in keeping your fruits and veggies healthy, especially during the summer.
People Also Ask
What can I feed a ladybug?
Every day, feed your ladybug raisins, lettuce, or honey in tiny amounts. Before feeding them to your habitat, soften 2-3 raisins in water for a couple of minutes. Tear half of a leaf of lettuce into little pieces and set it out for your ladybug to nibble on as well.
How do you keep ladybugs alive?
To keep ladybugs alive, you’ll need to provide them with a habitat such as cardboard, food and water. You can also place a piece of fruit in their habitat for them to eat. You can then place a cotton ball soaked in sugar water inside as well. Change the water every other day, and replace the fruit every few days. Keep their habitat in a cool, dark place.
How can you tell a female from a male ladybug?
The shape of the distal margin of the seventh (fifth visible) abdominal sternite is distinguishable in females; the distal margin is convex in males. Females have black pigmentation on their labrums and prosternums, whereas males do not. During their overwintering phase, female ladybeetles are unable to mate.
Do ladybugs bite?
Ladybugs are harmless to people. They don’t sting and, while they occasionally bite, their bites do not cause significant pain or infection. Their bites are usually more of a pinch than a true bite. lady beetle allergies, on the other hand, are possible.
Are Orange ladybugs poisonous?
The Asian Lady Beetles, often known as orange ladybugs, are another variety of ladybug that bites. They’re far more violent than their kind. Although most lady beetle aren’t deadly to humans, the orange ones have the most poisons in their bodies, which can cause allergies in some people and be fatal to dogs.
How do ladybugs sleep?
Ladybirds, like many insects, sleep by tucking in their legs and head and lowering themselves for a good night’s sleep. They generally do this at night, however, they may be found in the same posture during particularly chilly weather.