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What Do Ladybugs Like to Eat? The Interesting Answer!

Ladybug in leaf

Ladybugs are beneficial but sometimes pesky bugs that you can find all across the United States, with more than 20 native species. Since they are popular with children and sometimes invade homes, many people wonder what they eat. Most ladybugs eat other insects, but keep reading as we discuss the kinds that they enjoy most, as well as a few other things that they eat.

garden flower divider

What Kinds of Food Do Ladybugs Eat?

Ladybugs are predators that primarily eat other insects. Their favorite food is aphids, small bugs that reproduce quickly and destroy nearby plants, so most farmers and gardeners are happy to have ladybugs around. A single ladybug can eat up to 1,000 aphids during summer, and the females can lay up to 400 eggs, making them an effective natural pesticide. Other pesky bugs that ladybugs like to eat include ants, ticks, flies, mealybugs, plant lice, and leafhoppers.

spotted ladybugs on plant
Image By: sunakri, Shutterstock

Are All Ladybugs Predators?

No, a few species of ladybugs, like the Mexican Bean Beetle, are herbivores. These insects will eat fruits, leaves, lettuce, seeds, mildew, nectar, pollen, and fungi.

Is Seeing a Ladybug Lucky?

Many people worldwide believe that seeing a ladybug or having one land on you is good luck and that it is bad luck to kill one. Many farmers will agree that ladybugs are good luck because they can effectively eliminate aphids and other harmful insects that can destroy their crops. However, ladybugs spend most of their time eating these insects, so if you see a ladybug, there is also likely an aphid close by that can damage the plants on your property.

14-spot ladybug
Image By: Keith Hider, Shutterstock

Do Ladybugs Bite?

A ladybug can bite but it is quite rare. When the ladybug does bite, its jaws are not strong enough to break through human skin in most cases. However, they can leave a scratch that is itchy or sore, with a raised red area that remains for a few days. Humans can get similar injuries from their sharp legs, which can pinch the skin as they move. One study found that when ladybugs bite, they tend to target parts of the body without hair, like the back of the wrist. The skin is also quite thin in these areas, so a bite can result in bleeding. The study also found that of the more than 20 species, the common red ladybug (Harmonia axyridis), the Asian lady beetle (which many people know as the orange ladybug), and the ladybird beetle are the most likely to bite, though they are also the kinds that people are most likely to encounter.

Why Are There Ladybugs in My Walls?

Ladybugs tend to gather in late September and October and look for a place to shelter for the winter. Huddling helps protect them from freezing temperatures, and they are already together for the spring breeding season.

Orange Ladybug
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Other Interesting Ladybug Facts

  • There are about 5,000 species of ladybug around the world.
  • Ladybugs secrete foul-smelling oil from their joints when they feel threatened, which predators don’t like. Their color and markings also hope to convince predators to choose another target.
  • Ladybugs lay their eggs near aphids and other food sources so the larvae can begin eating as soon as they hatch.
  • Birds are the main predators of ladybugs, but frogs, wasps, and other animals will also eat them.
  • You can find the seven-spotted ladybird, two-spotted ladybird, Asian ladybird, Coleomegilla maculate ladybird, and Hippodamia convergens ladybug worldwide.
  • Ladybugs can live 2–3 years in the wild but usually only survive about 1 year in captivity.
  • Despite spending most of their time hunting and eating, a ladybug can live up to 9 months without food.

garden flower divider Summary

Most ladybugs eat aphids and other soft-body insects, like ticks, mealybugs, and flies. However, a few species are vegetarians and will stick to eating leaves, lettuce, mildew, nectar, and fungi. Since they usually eat insects that can harm crops and plants, most property owners are happy to see them. You can keep them out of your walls by filling in any holes around your property in early September before the temperature falls.

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Featured Image Credit: xanatos1000, Pixabay


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