Ladybugs (also known as ladybirds and lady beetles) are beautiful insects with their distinctive spotted colored appearance. Their appearance varies from pink, yellow or orange to the iconic bright red with black spots.
They also make good pets which are quite easy to catch and maintain and loved by kids and adults. They seem to be calm, cute, and quiet in appearance.
All pet lovers might wonder what do ladybugs eat? Not many people know about it. In this post, we have discussed in detail how to take care of your pet ladybug and what to feed them when indoors. We have also answered the FAQ’s about the ladybug food at the end of the post.
Many people especially gardeners and farmers are fond of ladybugs because of their appetite. In fact, ladybugs are predators that like to feed on aphids, mites, and mealybugs.
Luckily, no one really likes aphids, which means that ladybugs are a welcome guest in most gardens. The ladybug or ladybird is one of our most beneficial insects. It is a tireless worker in the garden for pest control.
Fun Fact: There are more than 6,000 species of ladybugs, all over the world. As a result, they are known by a few different names. In the U.S. and Canada, they are called ladybugs, while in the United Kingdom they’re known instead as ladybirds.
How To Care Of Your Pet Ladybugs?
You can find a ladybug in your garden easily. Use a small net to catch it. In case you are planning to hold it or catch it with your finger, then be gentle. Once you catch a ladybug and ready to make it your pet, follow the steps below to look after it properly.
1. Housing Your Ladybug
Place your ladybug in an enclosed container, miniature terrarium, or bug boxes which will serve as a habitat for your ladybug.
Make sure the container is spacious as ladybugs love to fly, explore, and settle when it is tired, so the bigger space you can provide, the better. Ideally, your container should be approx 1 square foot or bigger.
Note: Glass containers don’t make suitable habitats for ladybugs. Glass has a tendency to hold heat and could kill your pets if it gets too warm.
You can add some tree barks, twigs, fresh flowers, leaves, sticks, or stones, rocks, to give your ladybug a natural habitat in which it will be comfortable to live in.
Add some pebbles, or hollow twigs or seashells to the base of the container, to add to the beauty and give the ladybug a place to hide when feeling shy. Keep changing the leaves, flowers, in some days to keep them away from rotting.
Note: Make some holes in your habitat big enough to let air in without letting your ladybugs out.
2. Feeding the Ladybugs
Feed your ladybug small amounts of lettuce, cabbage, raisins, or honey every day. Do not overfeed your ladybug and plan on only giving it food once or twice per day depending on its size. Ladybugs don’t eat fabric, plants, paper or any other household items.
- Soak 3-4 raisins in water for a couple of minutes to soften them up before dropping them in their habitat container.
- You can add half of the lettuce leaf into small pieces and allow your ladybug to graze.
- Yet another option is to mix a dime-sized blob of honey with 2-3 drops of water inside a bottle cap.
Note: Always wash your hands after handling or feeding the ladybugs. The insects secrete a foul-smelling fluid when scared and in some cases have been known to carry diseases.
Aphids are the best food for ladybugs and are sometimes commercially available. If you plan to pet your ladybug for long-term you should provide them with aphids to eat daily.
Fun Facts: Even though ladybugs are known as a carnivore, some of them also eat plants including fungus. For example, they would eat mildew called Psyllobora. Others also eat leaves as a snack! Apart from leaves, some ladybirds also eat other plant-based materials like pollen, fungi, nectar,and cotton.
They indeed live in 4 seasons, but they would hide and sleep during winter. In this case, they only depend on excessive food supplies in their body for enduring.
3. Give Drinking Water to Your Ladybug
They do need water regularly, however, they do not drink much. Try placing a damp paper towel or cotton ball, or sponge inside the container as a water source. The bug will have it according to its needs.
Never put a water container or standing water next to your ladybug to prevent it from drowning.
4. When to Release Your Ladybug?
In case you like your ladybug too much then you can keep it a little longer and take care of its food, shelter, and water.
However, it’s best recommended to release it into the wild once you’ve taken care of it for a little while. The natural environment is its most preferred habitat where it can thrive well.
What Do Ladybugs Eat In the Wild?
Though there are some ladybugs that feed on crops, like the Mexican bean beetle and the squash beetle. So choosing the right bugs over the destructive ones is necessary.
Ladybugs Eat Larva: Other Ladybugs, Young Corn Borer Larvae, Mites & Nymphs Butterfly Caterpillar Moth Caterpillar Maggots
Ladybugs Eat Eggs: Corn Borer, Butterflies, Colorado Potato Beetle, Moths, Other Ladybugs.
Ladybugs Eat Insects & Bugs: Aphids, Mealybugs, Spider Mites, leafhopper, jumping plant lice, whiteflies, and Small Arachnids
Ladybugs Eat Fruit/Vegetable: Figs, raisins, grapes, dates, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, cherries, pears, plums, legumes, cucumbers.
Ladybugs Eat Plant-Based Material: Nectar, Pollen, Fungi, Mildew, Cotton
Ladybugs Eat Other Food: Honey, Honeydew.
Fun Fact: Based on research, a ladybug can consume up to a thousand of aphid or other insects all his life. This number is considered high despite the short lifespan, isn’t it?
FAQ’s on What do Ladybugs Eat?
Q: Do ladybugs eat ants?
A: No, Ladybugs do not eat or attack ants.
Q: Do Ladybugs eat plants?
A: Most ladybugs are not pests and are predators that feed on aphids and other plant-eating insects. There are exceptions to almost every rule, for example, subfamily Epilachninae can actually be considered vegetarian ladybugs. Some of them eat fungus, like mushrooms. There are some that like to dine on mildew. Still, others prefer eating leaves and can even become pests of some plants.
Q: Do Ladybugs eat spider mites?
A: Ladybugs are voracious predators and eat spider mites. An adult ladybug can live for over a year and eat up to nine spider mites an hour or 75 to 100 a day.
Q: What do ladybugs eat in winter?
A: Ladybugs hibernate in cold winter months and they only depend on excessive food supplies in their body for enduring and live off of their own body fat.
Q: What do ladybug larvae eat?
A: There’s no need to feed ladybug larvae, as all the nutrients they require come built into their pupae. Once the new ladybugs hatch, they’ll eat the same foods that your adult ladybugs enjoy.
Q: What is the ladybug lifespan? How long do they live?
A: The average lifespan of a ladybug in the wild is 2-3 years.
Q: Do Ladybugs Eat the Nectar in the Flowers?
You may be surprised to learn that female ladybugs eat both nectar and pollen for the nutrients they need to mature and lay eggs. Ladybugs feed on flowering plants. Apart from eating insect pests, ladybugs pollinate flowers and plants when they visit the blooms to feed on pollen and nectar and carry it to new flowers.