Eating ladybug apple

Food: what do ladybugs eat and drink?

Ladybugs are one of the most popular beneficial insects in the garden. They crave aphids, but the insects are not the beetles' only food source.

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Basic food: ladybugs

Beetles of the genus Coccinellidae are known and welcomed not only because of their appearance. Often referred to as lucky beetles, ladybugs are one of the most important pest killers in the home garden. Above all, the two-point (Adalia bipunctata) should be mentioned here, which is effective against aphids (Aphidoidea) and scale insects (Coccoidea). Numerous species of ladybirds feed on aphids and scale insects and eat 50 to 60 of them daily, which stops an infestation by the pests within a short time. But these are not the only insects that ladybugs eat:

  • Larvae of sawfly (Tenthredinidae)
  • Larvae of all kinds of beetles (Coleoptera)
  • Bed bugs (heteroptera)
  • Spider mites (Tetranychidae)
  • Fringed winged (Thysanoptera)
  • in rare cases butterfly caterpillars (Lepidoptera)

The spider mites do not belong to the insects, but to the arachnids, which ladybirds also enjoy excellently. The larvae feed on the same prey as the adult beetles and in most cases eat more. If there are no more prey available, many species switch to a variety of fruits, although this is not the preferred source of food.

Note: The sixteen-spotted (Halyzia sedecimguttata) and mushroom ladybug (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata) do not feed on insects, but on fungi. These mainly include mold or powdery mildew.

Vegetable food

While most of the species within the genus eat insects and live predatory, there are numerous taxa that specialize in plant-based diets. These include in the domestic latitudes:

  • Twenty-four spot ladybug (Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata)
  • Asiatic ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)

The diet of these two species is very different from one another. While Asians mainly eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, as well as grains, the twenty-four point ladybug specializes in certain plants:

  • Carnations (Dianthus)
  • Soap Herbs (Saponaria)
  • Glue herbs (Silene)
  • Pechnelken (Lychnis)
  • Alfalfa (Medicago)
  • Clover (trifolium)
  • Beets (Baia)
  • Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)

In southern Europe, Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata is often viewed as a pest because it attacks sugar beet (Beta vulgaris subsp. Vulgaris convar. Vulgaris var. Altissima) and potatoes in large numbers. The Asian, on the other hand, stays in beds or orchards, for example, and feasts on the plants available there. In the larval stage, the species Bulaea lichatschovi feeds exclusively on plant pollen instead of leaves or fruits, which is unique within the family.

What do ladybugs drink?

Regardless of the Coccinellidae species, they all depend on sufficient moisture. Because of this, they need to drink regularly to avoid dehydration. The insects ingest liquid mainly through their food or water sources. These include dew, raindrops, or a shower from your lawn sprinkler. For this reason, heat waves are not well tolerated by the beetles. You need between two and three drops of water a day. Since many species of ladybirds ingest flower nectar in addition to food, they receive additional fluids throughout the day.

Tip: Use spray bottles, bottle caps half-filled with water or moistened cotton balls to provide thirsty lucky beetles with moisture. They usually appear weakened and sluggish when they have to drink.

frequently asked Questions

Are ladybugs really cannibalistic?

Yes, Coccinellidae do not stop at their own conspecifics when other food sources become scarce. Cannibalism is particularly common in larvae and adult specimens when it comes to mass gatherings. Larvae that have already hatched often feed on their not yet hatched conspecifics.

Do the bugs have to eat over the winter?

No, the beetles either hibernate or go into rigidity at low temperatures. They use up their fat reserves over the winter, which have been eaten away over the summer and autumn. If the animals wake up during the rest period due to temperature fluctuations, they can quickly starve to death. This is particularly common at the beginning and end of winter.

What foods can the beetles be fed with?

If you want to help the animals out over the winter, for example, there are various food options. Honey or chilled sugar water provide moisture and nutrients. Alternatively, you can give chopped dried fruit such as raisins. If you keep reptiles, you can give them eggs from mealworms or other insects. Lucky bugs aren't picky.

Do the bugs suck blood?

There have been reports of the Asian ladybird as a bloodsucker. Especially towards the end of the year there should be bites because other food sources for the beetle are scarce. Because blood contains valuable nutrients and water, some specimens resort to this measure. In addition, the beetles' bite tools are strong enough to penetrate the skin.