Ladybugs are often found crawling in gardens with their domed backs and spotted bodies, so they are a popular species of insect that has captured the attention of kids and adults alike. If you've seen them around your house, you've probably wondered whether they eat your kitchen supplies, how often they eat, or if they eat other pests--so we have researched all the answers for you!
For ladybugs, the right time to eat is all the time. They eat practically all day, often slowing down during the night. They feed on Aphids, which is a common and destructive garden pest, making ladybugs beneficial.
Ladybugs are one of the most interesting insects that you can encounter. If you spot them in your garden, you may want to learn more about them before carelessly repelling them! Keep reading below to learn more about how to properly manage these ladybugs and how to make them more beneficial for your garden.
What Do Ladybugs Eat?
Ladybugs eat common garden pests in all stages of their life cycles. They eat aphids, mites, flies, and mealybugs. They also eat scales, thrips, and white flies. Also, ladybugs enjoy chowing down on pollen, fruit, and nectar. If these are not available, they eat fungi and mildew.
Some species of ladybugs also chew on specific plants, but these instances are few and far in between so they may not be a cause for concern.
A ladybug can consume over 5,000 aphids in its entire lifetime, as well as hundreds of garden pests every day. This makes them an ideal garden aid, so many gardeners take care not to harm them.
Do insects avoid ladybugs?
Not only do they actively eat any pests; their natural red and black color repel predators and pests away too. If ladybugs are staying in an area, birds and predators will be steering clear of them--and in turn, your crops-- since they don't like anything that comes in red or black.
This is mainly because, in the natural world, bright colors indicate that something will not be good. Wild animals and predators apply this instinct in their meals. This is ultimately what makes ladybugs a welcome friend in the garden: they benefit the area just by existing there!
How Do Ladybugs Benefit the Garden?
Ladybugs are a natural pest control aid. They are natural predators that eat the insects that ruin your crops, giving them a better chance to thrive. They have an insatiable appetite, so if you're lucky enough not to experience winter, these ladybugs can help you all year long.
Unfortunately, ladybugs are not always present. Since they are an excellent partner to your garden, here are ways you can attract them to your area.
Plant Ladybug-attracting Plants
Aside from insects, ladybugs also like to eat the pollen from specific plants. These include:
- Butterfly Weed
- Sweet Alyssum
- Queen Anne's Lace
- Wild Carrot
You can also plant chives, parsley, and cilantro, which are often good additional ingredients for cooking. Not only will you have home-grown spices, but you also get to attract the ladybugs! You wouldn't need to worry--ladybugs won't actually destroy these plants: They will only be eating the pollen.
Aside from these, you can also plant a cabbage. The cabbages will attract aphids, which will attract ladybugs.
Build a Water Source
Just like any other insect and animal, ladybugs need water to survive. Having a shallow cup of water on the ground surrounded by stones will attract ladybugs into your garden. The stones are highly necessary; you don't want the ladybugs to drown.
Avoid Chemical Pesticides
If you've already attracted ladybugs to your garden, spraying your crops with pesticides might do more harm than good. Not only is there a possibility of contamination; but you also risk killing helpful insects that will help your garden better in the long run.
If applying pesticides can't be helped, natural pesticides are better and safer.
Can ladybugs be destructive?
Although ladybugs are incredibly useful in the garden, you don't want them inside your house. They have been observed destroying fabrics, carrying crumbs of food, and even chewing on wood which can destroy your home's structural integrity.
Aside from that, ladybugs also emit a foul-smelling chemical when they're threatened which is inevitable if you find ladybugs in your house and are tempted to sweep them away.
Ladybugs may come inside your house during the winter season when they go through a period of Diapause, or the insect's version of hibernation.
Ladybugs will often find an ideal environment to survive winter, which is typically inside your house. This is especially made possible if you have them in your garden and they can access small openings through branches and shrubs.
This is why it's important to seal up the cracks in your home so you won't have to deal with an infestation. However, if they've managed to enter your house, simply vacuum them or sweep them away. If the infestation is serious, call pest control services immediately.
Read: "How Are Ladybugs Getting In My House?"
Is a ladybug a 'bug'?
Ladybugs are not bugs, they are beetles that come from the family Coccinellidae. The term "lady beetle" is more scientifically accurate, although ladybug has been its common name.
The name came from when farmers discovered their benefits and named them "Beetle of our Lady", which was then shortened to "Lady Beetle", which eventually became "ladybug". The term "Lady" referred to the Virgin Mary during the middle ages when crops were being plagued with pests.
When farmers noticed that the red beetles were eating up the pests, they interpreted it as the bugs saving their farm.
How long do Ladybugs Live?
The ladybugs' developmental stage lasts about two months, while their adult life lasts only up to one year. The harshness of the winter season affects their lifespan, as well as their diet prior to winter.
During diapause, they can only rely on their own stored fat, so if they don't have enough, it may shorten their lifespan.
A female ladybug reproduces about 200 eggs which can all hatch within a week. Even during their larval stage when the eggs hatch, the ladybugs will already begin to feed on aphids, although only within a very small perimeter.
After that, they will enter their pupal stage where their cocoon will have a yellow shade with the typical ladybug spots. After two weeks, they will be transformed into adult ladybugs.
Are all ladybugs red and black?
The most popular species of ladybugs come in red and black, but that's not the only color they come in. Ladybugs also come in yellow, orange, black, gray, and blue, and all of them contain the signature black spots present in red ladybugs.
The introduction of other colors was a product of evolution. The color is a result of their environment, climate, and habitat, so their appearance may be different for every region.
The vibrant color signifies their toxicity to predators, which should eventually drive them away. In the natural world, the more vibrant you are, the more dangerous when ingested.
Are there White-spotted Ladybugs
Aside from black spots, some species of ladybug called the cream-spot ladybird have cream, almost white spots. They are also helpful to the garden, their diet being similar. They are commonly found in rural and woodland areas.
Asian Lady Beetles Vs. Ladybugs: Key Differences
Ladybugs have a look-alike in the insect world, and they are called Asian Lady Beetles. Both of them have a bright red body with dark spots, so it's easy to confuse the two.
However, they have key differences that you can easily observe: For instance, they are slightly bigger than ladybugs, and they have an M-shaped or W-shaped marking on their heads.
Asian Lady beetles can also prey on plant-eating insects. However, there are instances when they also eat the flesh of the fruit, which might force you to eliminate them. Aside from that, they also infest the homes all year-round, unlike ladybugs who only enter homes during the winter.
Ladybugs are highly beneficial, and sometimes even essential to your garden. It might be easy to confuse them with other more invasive insects, so be alert about which critters enter your garden. As always, the key to cultivating your garden well is to identify which insects are helpful and which are destructive.
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