You will probably wonder who will bother to know about this measly bug. Why worry about what they eat when we just see them flying around in the garden seemingly carefree about its own life.
If you are someone like me who likes colorful insects and find delight in little creatures like ladybugs, you will definitely get interested in knowing how to care for them.
But before we learn about their diet, let us first discover the wonders about these garden heroes.
What are ladybugs?
Ladybugs are found all over the world and they are called with different names in different places. In the U.S. and Canada, these are called ladybugs, while in the United Kingdom these are called ladybirds. The same is true in British Commonwealth countries.
You may probably agree that ladybug is more of an appropriate name than ladybird because of its appearance, but both names are quite misleading.
Ladybugs are not bugs but rather a type of beetle. It is not a member of the insect order, which are considered as true bugs. Some examples of crawling bugs are aphids and cicadas.
Ladybugs are more in the line of beetles, flies, ants, and bees. It may interest you to know that in some parts of the world, these humble creatures are considered good luck. And in some cultures are associated with religious symbols.
Why are they considered to be garden heroes?
It will surprise you to learn that ladybugs, harmless as it may seem are carnivorous. These predators feed on one of the most hated enemies in the garden – aphids. If you like gardening, planting vegetables and the like, you will appreciate the presence of ladybugs in your surrounding.
Not only are they delightful to the eyes because of their vibrant colors, but they will also instantly replace your chemical pesticides. In fact, even larval ladybugs feed on aphids. Just an added trivia, ladybugs lay their eggs on aphids infested plants so that when these hatches they have instant food to feed their larva.
So what do ladybugs eat besides aphids?
As I have mentioned, ladybugs are carnivores. And because they love to devour insects, part of their menu are other insects that have soft bodies like mites, whiteflies and scale insects.
But not all ladybugs are carnivores. There are exceptions, like the subfamily of Epilachninae, which are considered as vegetarian ladybugs. These types eat fungus, like mushrooms and even like to dine on mildew. And then there are also those who prefer to eat leaves and fruits.
But because they are mainly carnivorous creatures and love to feed on pests in the garden, they can be considered as exterminators. These make them a perfect partner for gardeners to keep their plants from the attacks of pesky pests.
So if you love planting and prefer to remain organic or pesticide free in your practice, it may be a good idea to keep a ton of these lovely predators in your garden.
Can they survive the winter?
Just like bears, ladybugs also hibernate during winter. So yes, they do survive the cruel winter wind and zero degrees temperature.
But just like ants, these beetles prefer not to be caught in snowflakes so they find themselves a cozy place to stay while waiting for the next season. And one of the most convenient places to keep warm is inside the houses.
You might probably wonder how they get inside the houses during winter when most abodes are tightly closed to keep off the cold breeze. Well, ladybugs are no strangers to finding their way in through slidings and small pockets of openings through the windows.
And because they love company, you can be sure that if you see one in your house, there is a big chance that others will follow shortly. They are a community lover so don’t be surprised if you see a swarm of them during this cold season.
So the next question is, what do ladybugs eat in the winter?
Now you might think that since they are in your house and there are no aphids nor insects loitering in there they will start eating stuff lying around your house.
Nope, don’t panic! Ladybugs will not munch on your furniture, papers and other important household items. They prefer a little humidity so if you see some dropping dead in your sink or your bathroom, they are probably hoping to get some hydration.
You might even find it amusing seeing them sipping through your bathtub or sink, but they need it from time to time to keep them from dehydrating.
What do ladybugs eat indoors should not be too much of a concern because when they hibernate in your house they will live off their own body fats. It may be surprising to know how can such a tiny creature store many fats that can last them a season, but it’s what keeps them alive without the company of their favorite menu.
So aside from what we already mentioned above as part of their diet, what other insects do ladybugs eat?
We have already learned that ladybugs are voracious insect eaters so it will not come as a surprise that they eat a wide variety of bugs. Let’s try to learn what are these:
Do ladybugs eat whiteflies?
Yes, in fact, one of the most natural ways to remove whiteflies is to invest on hundreds of ladybugs and let them loose in the infested area. But before we start hating these insects, let’s try to be educated a little about their origin.
Whiteflies are soft-bodied, winged insects that are very close relatives of aphids and mealybugs. And because of their very tiny size, they are usually camouflaged.
Their usual size is 1/12 of an inch of somewhat triangular shape. These are often found in clusters and hide undersides of leaves. Unlike their nocturnal counterparts, whiteflies are active during the daytime, making it so much easier for the ladybugs to spot them.
Do ladybugs eat stink bugs?
The behavioral observation about the relationship between stink bugs and ladybugs does not clearly state if ladybugs do eat stink bugs. They seem to have a rather friendly co-existence.
But what is strange is stink bugs eat their kind. It may interest you to know that there are a hundred species of this insect and these are mostly herbivores that love to eat crops, plants, and even flowers.
But there are certain species that eat other insects. Interestingly, the foul odor that they emit to distract their predators also causes their predators to distaste them. And often spit them out because of their bad taste.
Do ladybugs eat caterpillars?
Caterpillars are an easy target for all kinds of predators because they are slow moving and easy to notice. Their bright green color makes them so attractive to hungry birds, insects, and other bugs.
And ladybugs will not miss this delectable treat. Their soft bodies are easy to munch making them a favorite among their predators. But because ladybugs are generally small, they prefer to eat the smaller species.
Do ladybugs eat mealybugs?
Ladybugs are voracious garden pests eater. And mealybugs is one of these pesky pests that you can find in any fruit garden.
Their appearance is an indication of why these are called mealybugs because their body is covered with white sticky powder that resembles cornmeal.
These usually attack citrus trees and ornamental plants, especially found in greenhouses and indoors. Gardeners usually seek the help of friendly ladybugs as a safer alternative to chemical pesticides.
Do ladybugs eat ants?
Now, this is an interesting subject. We have already learned earlier that ladybugs love to munch on aphids. But in this section, we will learn that ants protect the aphids. The more aphids, the better it is for the ants. So ants protect aphids colony from any of their predators, especially ladybugs.
This is because aphids release a sweet substance called honeydew that ants eat. These substances are their body wastes or feces. In some instances, ants provoke aphids from releasing this honeydew by touching their antennae to the aphids causing them to raise their behind and release the sweet tasting substance. To return this favor, ants protect and even care for their aphids supply.
And because of this mutually beneficial coexistence between the ants and the aphids, the ants attack the ladybugs. Although ladybugs are not really hurt because of their hard coating. And ants are not successful in hurting them.
Do ladybugs eat bed bugs?
Ladybugs are usually found outdoors. They love hanging around pest infested garden for daily sustenance; thus, only stay indoors when the weather does not allow them to stay in their natural habitat.
During winter, it is this time of the year when we see ladybugs hang around the house. But we also know for a fact that bed bugs are indoor pests. In fact, these feed on human blood and prefer to stay cozy in the company of their hosts.
These parasites are not a favorite meal of ladybugs because their natural habitat is different. So, do ladybugs eat bed bugs? The answer is a clear no!
Do ladybugs eat mosquitoes?
Another insect that seems to be not palatable to ladybugs is mosquitoes. Why? A simple deduction can explain this fact. It seems that ladybugs are attracted to garden pests more than parasites.
And because mosquitoes suck on human blood for their survival, just like bed bugs, ladybugs are not so attracted to them.
Do ladybugs eat fleas?
It is interesting to note that ladybugs like eating soft body insects. And fleas are soft body crawlers that come in multiples, so ladybugs will definitely enjoy munching on them.
Mature ladybugs consume approximately 50 to 60 bugs a day and so they can be very effective in controlling any type of pest infestation, including fleas. But to say that they can completely get rid of fleas infestation is very unlikely. So the best option is to put them as one of your multiple defenses in eliminating this problem.
And if your surrounding is often visited by fleas, it will be wise to keep ladybugs around by creating a thriving environment for the ladybugs to stay around.
Do ladybugs eat spider mites?
One of the ladybugs’ favorite snacks is spider mites. These are arachnids and are related to spiders, which allows them to create webs in their infestations.
It is easy to see these pests whenever you notice weblike trimmings on your plants. But because they are very tiny, about 2mm in size, they tend to easily disappear in the naked eye.
However, spider mites infestations can be easily spotted whenever you see plants losing their bright green colors because they feed on chlorophyll.
Plant growers can easily identify if spider mites are becoming to be a dreaded enemy. So some encourage the presence of ladybugs to keep these pests from destroying their plants even more.
However, ladybugs tend to lose their interests on these mites so it is also good to keep additional organic pesticide sprays to keep spider mites off your beautiful garden.
Now that we have familiarized ourselves with what do ladybugs eat, it is also good to remember that they are gardeners’ and farmers’ best friend.
They are ninjas in the garden, who easily and effortlessly devour on pesky pests that they see in leaves and branches of most plants.
Even during the ancient times, ladybugs have already been considered as angels sent down from heaven to help farmers keep their produce healthy and delicious.
It is easy to populate them by keeping them happy. They are naturally sociable insects and do not like to be alone. So when you see one of them in your garden, you can be assured that there are more than 2 of them that share in the feast.
Here is a video answering the question: Do ladybugs bite?
Keep your plants hydrated because they too love to hydrate. And make their environment suitable for multiplication. They love warm, cozy temperature so while your plants are in bloom, you can also be assured that they too are encouraged to increase their number.