Origin of Ladybugs
Ladybugs, also called ladybird beetles or lady beetles, are small insects that are known for their distinctive red or orange coloration with black spots. These tiny creatures are quite beneficial in the realm of pest control due to their carnivorous diet, making them valuable allies for gardeners and farmers alike.
Village farmers were the first to give the name Ladybug, as they considered ladybugs to be symbols of good luck, signifying a safe harvest without pest infestations. Ladybugs came to the rescue when aphids and other pests infested their crops, devouring the bugs and ultimately protect plants.
While ladybugs are widely known for their appetite for plant pests, it is important to note that they also consume nectar and pollen. They eat aphids, but they also eat other insects. Let’s take a closer look at what else ladybugs consume.
Ladybugs typically have a lifespan of around one year as adults. They go through a complex larval and pupa stage, which could be seen as a bonus in their lifespan. However, these early stages are brief, lasting about two months.
Several factors can impact a ladybug’s lifespan, including habitat destruction and exposure to insecticides. Additionally, they may hibernate in winter months, and they are unable to fly if the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If they do hibernate, ladybugs can survive the winter by using stored fat and food reserves.
Ladybugs Toxicity to Human
All ladybugs can bite or pinch, releasing toxic substances in the process. Although these bites can be mildly painful, they are not typically dangerous. While ladybugs are not harmful to humans, allergic individuals may experience symptoms after a bite that most people do not.
Ladybug secretions contain proteins that can cause swelling of the lips and airways, as well as angioedema. People who are allergic to ladybugs may react to these proteins. The same proteins can also be found in German cockroaches, which are known for causing allergic reactions.
Certain ladybug species, like the orange ladybug, are more prone to biting. When they feel threatened, they release a strong-smelling fluid on the skin, indicating that they feel uneasy or threatened. While this may lead to a bite, ladybugs do not feed on blood, so the only risk is a bite mark or red bump. Their bites do not penetrate deeply, so there is no need to worry.
Ladybugs are voracious predators and primarily hunt soft-bodied insects like aphids, mites, and mealybugs. They use their keen sense of smell with the help of their antennae to seek out their prey and then use their strong mandibles to consume them.
As it is commonly known, Ladybugs primarily feed on Aphids. Due to the slow and wingless nature of Aphids, Ladybugs do not have a difficult time hunting them. They do not have to wait for their prey to come to them, as they can simply fly in, locate a cluster of Aphids, and have their fill. Even though Aphids are capable of using gravity to fall off plant leaves, Ladybugs can easily find and capture them while in flight. This is the typical hunting and feeding behavior of most Ladybug species around the world.
Ladybugs feed on a wide range of pests. Here is a complete list of what Ladybugs like you may find useful:
- Aphids: Ladybugs are known to gather and feed on aphids, which are small-winged insects that are considered pests in gardens. This is true for all ladybug species and habitats, and because of this, online retailers and gardening suppliers in the United States sell live ladybugs to help control aphids. If you are not familiar with the types of ladybugs in your area, it is recommended to do some research.
- Mites: Mites are tiny arachnids related to spiders and ticks. Because of their small size, they are difficult to detect and can cause significant damage to vegetable crops. A single ladybug can consume up to 75 or 100 mites each day, which can help protect acres of gardens from damage.
- Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small insects that thrive in moist, warm environments. They mainly feed on the juices of subtropical trees, house plants, and greenhouse plants. Having ladybugs in your garden can reduce the risk of mealybug infestations.
- Insect eggs: Ladybugs prey on a variety of insects’ eggs and larvae, which means having Ladybugs in your garden can help reduce insect and pest populations to some extent.
- Fungi: Fungi are organisms with eukaryotic cells, and the most common types of fungi include mushrooms, yeasts, and molds. Including fungi in your garden can be a good way to attract ladybugs.
- Mildew: Ladybugs can consume mildew, a type of fungus commonly found in home gardens, helping to promote healthy plant growth.
- Fruit Flies: Ladybugs can survive on fruit flies, offering protection to the ripe fruits in your garden.
- Pollen: Some species of Ladybugs feed on pollen, the powdery substance produced by trees.
- Nectar: Adult ladybugs eat nectar, the sweet liquid secreted by flowers.
- Plants: It’s important to note that ladybugs also eat plants, a variety of plants, such as garlic, dill, fennel, cilantro, yarrow, caraway, angelica, tansy, coreopsis, and scented geraniums.
Food For Baby Ladybugs (Larva)
Ladybug larvae also have a carnivorous diet, feeding on soft-bodied pests like aphids and other pests to fuel their growth and development.
Female ladybugs typically lay their eggs in areas that are abundant in Aphids, providing a ready source of food for their hatched larvae. When the larvae emerge, they immediately start feeding on the surrounding Aphids.
During the larval stage, which lasts for a few weeks, the ladybug larvae can consume large number of Aphids, typically around 200-400 over 2-3 weeks.
In addition to their diet of soft-bodied insects, ladybugs need moisture and often drink water droplets from leaves and plant surfaces.
In addition to Aphids, ladybugs drink aphid honeydew, a sweet liquid produced by some insects after consuming plants. This honeydew and nectar provide essential nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for the ladybugs. In arid environments, it is also beneficial for ladybugs to maintain their bodies hydrated. Ladybugs might also consume fluids from both plants and other insects, and they might search for little areas of standing water to obtain additional hydration if necessary.
An adult ladybug can consume up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime equivalent to 50 Aphids daily, making them a valuable asset for natural pest control in gardens and agricultural settings.
Similar to other insects and animals, ladybugs are less active at night and therefore they eat their entire food supply for the day before it gets dark.
While ladybugs are effective predators, they are not immune to predation themselves. Birds, spiders, and some wasps are known to feed on ladybugs.
Although Ladybugs are beautifully colored with bright hues and black spots, they emit a foul odor. This unpleasant smell is due to the glands located in their joints. As a result, many predators assume they must taste terrible and choose not to eat them.
People Also Ask
How do ladybugs help with pest control?
A: Ladybugs are natural predators of various pests, especially aphids and other soft-bodied insects like spider mites. They help control pest populations by feeding on these harmful insects, thereby aiding in natural pest control.
Where do ladybugs lay their eggs?
A: Ladybugs lay their eggs near colonies of aphids or other pest insects. The eggs are usually laid on the undersides of leaves to provide protection and easy access to the food source once the larvae hatch.
Can ladybugs bite humans?
A: Ladybugs may occasionally bite humans, but their bites are usually harmless and cause minimal discomfort. It’s uncommon for ladybugs to bite, and they generally avoid human contact unless provoked.
What is integrated pest management, and how does it relate to ladybugs?
A: Integrated pest management (IPM) is a holistic approach to pest control that incorporates natural predators like ladybugs to manage pest populations. In IPM, ladybugs are used as a natural means of pest control, reducing the reliance on chemical pesticides.
How can I attract ladybugs to my garden?
A: You can attract ladybugs to your garden by planting flowers such as dill, fennel, and yarrow, which are known to attract these beneficial insects. Ladybugs are also drawn to areas with abundant aphid populations, so managing aphid-infested plants can attract them to your garden.