Did you know there are roughly 5,000 different species of ladybugs in the world? The ten-spotted and seven-spotted ladybugs are the iconic ones that most recognize, but they’re far from alone! Also called lady beetles, ladybirds, and ladybird beetles, ladybugs are some of the most common insects in North America.
Have you been curious to learn what ladybugs eat and why you keep finding them in the garden? Read on to learn more about the ladybug and what they eat!
What Do Ladybugs Eat?
You can usually find a ladybug eating the following pests:
- Fruit flies
- Insect eggs
- Most small insects
- Mildew and fungi
- Pollen and some species of plants
Most of a ladybug’s diet is insects. Though they eat plants, a surplus of ladybugs shouldn’t threaten the health of your garden. Gardeners will commonly release ladybugs into their backyard or garden to keep other pests under control.
How Do Ladybugs Hunt?
Adult ladybugs hunt by staying near areas that their prey favors. They’re common in gardens and flowers so that they can hunt down aphids, mites, and fruit flies. They’ll also often be found in damp, wet areas so that they can feast on fungi.
Ladybug mothers also lay their eggs near aphid eggs. The ladybug eggs hatch quicker, and when the larvae arrive, they feast on the eggs that they were laid next to. Baby ladybugs eat hundreds of aphids in just a few weeks.
How Much Does a Ladybug Eat?
Ladybugs sleep and eat. From the moment they’re awake until they go to sleep, they’re almost definitely eating or hunting.
Statistically speaking, the average ladybug eats about 5,000 aphids in its life, which can last about 1-2 years. If a ladybug eats this many aphids in a year, they’ve eaten an average of about 14 aphids a day!
What Eats a Ladybug?
A ladybug’s coloration is meant to warn predators that they taste awful. They also have glands that give off a repulsive scent that manages to spook off most predators. However, there are still a few predators that will feast on them.
Birds are the most common predator. In watery environments, frogs and dragonflies will also feed on ladybugs. You can also find web-spinning spiders eating a ladybug that’s unlucky enough to find its way into their nest. Hunting spiders tend to go for other game but will take a ladybug if they see it.
Many home and property owners come across animal feces and are concerned about what animals may be lurking. Being able to identify the feces that wildlife and rodents leave behind will not only let you know what animals are in the area, but also can give clues as to how many of them are present.
At first, it can be distressing to find foreign looking animal feces in your home or on your property. Fears of aggressive or rabid animals, as well as the diseases they may carry are often the first worries.
Protecting your family and pets is of utmost importance. However, taking the time to correctly identify the feces is essential in assessing the threat or risk from the animals.
This research will also enable a home or property owner to devise an effective strategy for keeping any pest animals out of their homes, barns, or other areas where they are not welcome.
Scat Identification Techniques
- The first thing to do if you come across scat, or feces from animals, is to observe the location of the droppings. Notice where the feces are in relation to buildings, other structures, other animals, water, roads, and vegetation. Different animals will place their droppings in particular locations and this can be the first clue to identifying them.
- Next, observe the placement of the scat. Are the feces hidden or buried? Are they randomly dropped all over an area with seemingly little regard for placement, or are they tucked away in corners or neat piles? These factors can greatly narrow down the list of possible culprits.
- Note the size of the scat. If you are investigating feces found in your home or on your property, it is a good idea to obtain a ruler or tape measure that you can use to measure. Some animals’ feces may look identical to others from the same family, and size may be the only distinguishing feature. *REMEMEBR: animal feces can carry both diseases and parasites so they should never be handled without gloves.*
- What is the shape of the found fecal matter? Some shape characteristics to look for include if the feces are round, tapered at the ends, completely tubular, round pellets, twisted, or moist mounds.
- An additional clue to the species of animal leaving the scat is what is included in the feces. Berries, hair, seeds, and plant parts should all be looked for in the droppings. This information can be used to identify the animal that left it.
- Lastly, look around the area where you first identified the scat. In cases of feces from animals that have similar appearing feces to another species, it can be helpful to search for nearby footprints or tracks left by the animals. This can be used to confirm species.
Final Thoughts: What Ladybugs Eat
Ladybugs are a great addition to any garden and can take out troublesome pests swiftly. Though they’re short-lived, ladybugs are a joy to see and help keep mites, mosquitos, and other such pests under control.
Ladybug Diet FAQs
Yes, aphids are a favorite food of ladybugs.
Yes, they sometimes eat spider mites.
No, ladybugs do not eat ants.
Yes, some ladybug species do eat plants (although most do not).
Yes they sometimes eat small spiders or spider mites.
Ladybugs sometimes drink sweet liquids like nectar, honeydew, and sap.
Just like full grown ladybugs, ladybug larvae eat aphids.
Full grown ladybugs will eat 20-25 aphids, while larvae will eat between 200-250 a day.
If you’re looking for more information on animal diets, we created a guide to human foods dogs can and can’t eat, and you can also check out our resources on the diets of various animals below: