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What do Ladybugs Eat?

What do Ladybugs Eat?

Ladybugs have quite a few different names.  In North America, they are called ladybugs, in Britain, they are mostly called ladybirds and in other areas, they are referred to as lady beetles.  The true name for this insect is Coccinellidae.  There are over 4500 different species of ladybug identified all over the world and most of them do share the same basic diet.

We all know exactly what ladybugs look like because of their unique spotted bodies and bright colors.  Lots of people also believe that they will get good luck if a ladybug happens to land on them. There are also lots of other beliefs and superstitions that surround these interesting looking insects.

What do Ladybugs Eat?

Ladybugs are often introduced into agricultural sectors because they are used to combat other insect infestations.  These cute little bugs are actually vicious predators that feed on other small insects.  They are called a gardener’s best friend because of their ability to keep crops and plants free from pests that might kill your plants.

But not all ladybug species share the same diet.  While most species are insectivores, there are some species that do eat plant matter.  Here is a quick look at the most common foods that ladybug love to eat.

Pest insects

You should never kill a ladybug when you spot it in your garden.  These tiny insects are wonderful for keeping other insects away from your plants.  Ladybugs eat all sorts of pest insects such as aphids, thrips, chinch bugs, asparagus beetle larvae, alfalfa weevils, bean thrips, grape root worms, Colorado potato beetle larvae, spider mites, white flies, mealy bugs, and many others.

Aphids

Aphids are one of the most common foods that ladybugs enjoy eating.  A single ladybug will consume up to 5,000 aphids in its life.  This makes them incredibly beneficial for protecting gardens and crops.

Fungus

Some ladybugs do focus on plant matter.  They consume a variety of fungus types such as mushrooms, algae, mold, mildew, and other types.

Leaves

The Epilachninae ladybug is the best known vegetarian ladybug.  This one eats fungi and certain types of leaves.  It is not predatory species and has an orange colored and spotted shell.

Moist raisins

Some ladybugs do enjoy a sweet treat.  You can offer moist raisins to ladybugs in captivity.  The moist raisins are a good source of water without any risk of drowning.

Sweet non-acidic fruits

Other sweet non-acidic fruits such as watermelons, melons, cantaloupe, and honeydew can also be offered to ladybugs if you cannot find aphids or other pest insects to feed them or if you want to introduce more water.

A bit of jelly

As a special treat, you can also offer ladybugs a little bit of jelly.  They enjoy the sweet taste and smell and jelly is a good source of water to keep them hydrated.

Water

Ladybugs get lots of moisture from consuming other insects.  But these insects do also enjoy drinking water.  Ladybugs in captivity are usually offered water by placing wet paper towels or sponges into the tank because they can easily drown.  In the wild, they can however drink water from a pond or river by sucking up water from the wet soil.

Diet Variations

Since ladybugs mostly feed on other pest insects, foods like jelly, raisins, and sweet fruits are diet variations.  They might eat these foods but it isn’t a very common food for them.

How to Feed Ladybugs

The best way to feed ladybugs is by allowing them to roam free in your garden and crops.  This is because ladybug larvae consume much more compared to adult beetles.  When ladybugs are set free, they will lay thousands of eggs.  The larvae that hatch from these eggs are ideal for keeping crops free from damaging bugs.

What do Ladybugs Eat in the Wild?

In the wild, ladybugs feed on natural pest insects they find on plants.  Ladybugs are often found in areas that are rich in plant life such as gardens, forests, and crops because this gives them access to so much food. Herbivore ladybugs prefer fungal growths and leaves and as such tend to live in humid regions.

What do Ladybugs Eat in Captivity?

Ladybugs can be kept and bred in captivity.  To feed these insects in captivity, you can chop an aphid infested plant and feed it to your ladybugs.  To introduce moisture, you can also soak a cotton ball in water so these bugs can stay hydrated.

What do Baby Ladybugs Eat?

Baby ladybugs are called larvae.  They look nothing quite like their adult form.  Instead, they look more like caterpillars.  Ladybug larvae eat more than adult ladybugs but they eat the same foods.  They eat all sorts of pest plants like aphids, alfalfa weevils, bean thrips, grape root worms, and many others.

How Much and Often Do Ladybugs Eat?

Ladybug larvae eat much more than adult beetles.  This is exactly why it is best to introduce adult ladybugs so they can lay eggs and breed to protect crops.  The average ladybug will consume 5,000 aphids in its lifetime which means they do have quite a healthy appetite considering their small size.

Do Ladybugs Eat Ants?

No, these animals do not attack or eat plants.  They are often at war with ants because ladybugs and ants both eat aphids.  Ants do however sometimes kill and eat ladybugs.  Ants will also feed on ladybug carcasses.

Do Ladybugs Eat Plants?

Some species of ladybug are herbivores and might eat certain types of leaves.  There are however very few herbivore ladybug species and most herbivore ladybugs prefer fungi foods like mildew and mushrooms to leaves.

Do Ladybugs Drink Water?

Yes, ladybugs do need to drink water but they can easily drown.  If you have ladybugs in captivity, you should offer them water by soaking a sponge or cotton ball in water before laying it in the tank.  In the wild, ladybugs will get water by consuming dew or they will visit dams and rivers and suck up water from moist soil that surrounds these natural water sources.