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Ladybugs are known as sky goats, sun calves or summer birds. Every child knows the spotted insects and knows that these creepy-crawlies devour masses of aphids. However, their diet is varied and not limited to the plant sap suckers.

Ladybugs are wonderful beneficial insects that devour garden pests

Table of Contents

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  1. the essentials in brief
  2. Biodiversity in Germany
  3. What do ladybugs eat?
  4. What do ladybug larvae eat?
  5. frequently asked Questions
  6. the essentials in brief

    • In Germany, the Asian ladybird is widespread alongside the seven-spot and two-spot ladybirds. All three species prefer aphids, although they also eat pollen or other insects.
    • In autumn, the last available food is used to build up fat reserves. The insects feed on this during their hibernation.
    • Larvae and adults eat the same food as adult beetles. Your demand increases again in the last stage of development.
    • The fluid balance is covered by food or water intake. In winter, moist hibernation quarters are important so that the beetles do not dry out.

    Biodiversity in Germany

    In Germany there are about 80 species of ladybirds. The insects love warmth, which is why they are mainly found in tropical and subtropical regions. The Asian ladybug is an introduced species and makes life difficult for local representatives because of its voracity.

    Common species and their coloration:

    • Asian ladybug: mainly light yellow but also dark red to almost black
    • Seven-spot ladybug: red elytra with a total of seven dark spots
    • Two-spot ladybug: black with red dots or red with black dots

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    What the coloring says about the food

    The two-spot ladybug comes in two color variants. Depending on the colour, the need for food changes, which is due to the connection between metabolic activity and body temperature. Black individuals warm up more when exposed to sunlight than red beetles.

    At higher body temperatures, the metabolism works faster. Therefore, these specimens need to eat more food in the summer to avoid starvation. In winter, the black coloring proves to be a disadvantage, because the fat reserves are used up more quickly due to the high conversion rate. As a result, more red than black ladybugs survive.

    What do ladybugs eat?

    Ladybugs like to eat lice

    The spotted insects are among the most effective pest fighters, because their menu consists mainly of plant sap-sucking lice. When food becomes scarce, larvae and adult beetles develop into cannibals. They then capture eggs and imagines of their own species or related individuals.

    Wide range of foods:

    • bugs, spider mites and thrips
    • Larvae of beetles, sawflies and butterflies
    • Leaves of useful plants such as potatoes or legumes
    • mildew and mold fungi
    • fruits and pollen

    nutrition of native species

    The preferred food of the common species differs minimally. In the first place are aphids and fleas. The larvae of the Asian ladybug eat around 1,000 insects in their lifetime, while the seven-spotted ladybug is slightly less voracious. Its offspring comes to about 400 captured sap suckers during the entire development. Adult specimens of the multicolored ladybird eat 100 to 270 animals per day.

    eat something mainly occasionally Rare
    yellow ladybugs aphids soft-shelled insects, eggs and larvae grapes
    red ladybugs Aphids and small mite species abandoned eggs bee pollen
    black ladybugs Aphids and scale insects Larvae of other ladybirds plant

    food supply in autumn

    The last warm days offer the ladybirds opportunities to top up their fat reserves before the long winter. Therefore, leave withered plants if possible until next spring, because this is where the beetles look for food. Dead wood and rotten tree bark are also good sources of food. Various insects and larvae cavort between the wood fibers in search of a place to spend the winter.

    Autumn menu:

    • Aphids and spider mites as usual
    • Bugs as alternative food
    • Sawfly larvae and thrips as a valuable addition

    The two-spotted ladybug flies north in autumn because the temperatures here are constant during the winter months.

    What do ladybugs eat in winter?

    Ladybugs are cold-blooded insects that adapt their body temperature to their environment. This is necessary because the food supply is very limited during the cold season. During their hibernation, the beetles do not eat. They feed on fat reserves that they accumulated during the warm months. When crawlers wake up early from hibernation, they cannot find enough food sources and often starve to death.

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    tips

    If you want to help native species through the winter, provide the insects with a wooden box lined with leaves and branches as a retreat. The animals dry out quickly during the cold season, which is why they retreat to protective cavities.

    What Do Baby Ladybugs Eat?

    The diet of the larvae does not differ from the preferences of adult beetles. Aphids and fleas as well as mildew and mold are also on their menu. If the adult insects feed on the leaves of various plants or pollen, these food sources are not scorned by the offspring either. Based on the eating habits, conclusions can be drawn about the typical habitats.

    Where ladybugs live:

    • on preferred plants such as the carnation family
    • on flowering plants that produce a lot of pollen
    • on ornamental and crop plants with aphid colonies or mold infestation

    Food requirements of the beetle larvae

    Ladybug larvae also love aphids

    As they develop, the larvae become increasingly voracious. They eat most aphids in the last stage of development. If the ambient temperatures are high at this time, the conversion of food also increases.

    tips

    To encourage ladybugs, you should ensure that your garden is designed in a natural way. On the balcony, clay pots filled with dead wood and rotten tree bark offer an ideal retreat with additional food supply. Numerous microorganisms cavort in the wood.

    Correlation between hunter and prey

    Ladybird larvae are sensitive to changes in the numbers of aphid colonies. Their populations regulate themselves depending on the aphids present. If there were too many sap suckers in a season, the number of ladybugs increases. If there is not enough prey next year, the colonies of spotted insects will be decimated again.

    frequently asked Questions

    What do ladybugs eat in the apartment?

    Ladybugs often get lost through open windows and doors in apartments. The animals retreat to roof beams or facade cracks to hibernate. In this way, they can easily get indoors. If the insects appear in masses on the window pane during the winter months, they were disturbed in their hibernation by warmer temperatures.

    However, you won't find enough food in houses, so you should move the crawlers back outside. If you want to help the beetles, put them in a wooden box with an entry hole and filled with rotten wood, stalks and leaves. Place the box in a cool place so that the ladybugs fall back into hibernation.

    What do ladybugs drink?

    The small spotted insects have to replenish their fluid balance quickly, especially after hibernation, in order not to dry out. In nature, they drink water droplets that collect on the leaves. They cover part of their liquid needs by eating aphids.

    You can help thirsty animals by using an eyedropper to drop a small drop of water right next to the bug. They don't mind if you pollinate plants liberally with a flower sprayer. Alternatively, you can also place moistened sponges, cloths or cotton balls in your homemade ladybug quarters.

    What do Asian ladybugs eat besides aphids?

    Harmonia axyridis is a good example of the high success rate in pest control. The species was introduced by humans in Europe to control the massive aphid infestations in greenhouses (77.12€). From here, the multicolored ladybird was able to escape into nature, where it has been spreading massively ever since.

    If aphids are not available, the beetles will prey on soft-shelled insects and larvae. In times of need, they feed on pollen. In addition, eggs and imagines of local ladybird larvae are on the menu.

    How do ladybugs hibernate?

    Ladybugs retreat to a warm place in winter

    In order for the beetles to survive the frosty winter, they withdraw into protective niches. Conditions should be humid, frost-free and no warmer than eight degrees. Wall cracks, niches under tree bark or cavities under moss offer ideal quarters for wintering.

    In the garden, insects like to retreat to piles of leaves or dead stalks of perennials and grasses. It is not uncommon for them to crawl through openings in the house facade or settle in the rafters. When temperatures rise in winter, animals often accumulate in large numbers in houses and apartments.

    Can I feed ladybugs in winter?

    If the beetles wake up too early from their hibernation due to mild temperatures, the food supply is usually too low. If the species are native, you can increase the chances of the animals surviving by feeding them. Foods that are high in sugar and rich in vitamins are suitable.

    Offer the bugs honey, sugar water or syrup in a bottle cap. Dried fruits soaked in water, such as raisins, apricots or figs, are also ideal. Mild jam with a low acid content is also well received.

    Important instructions:

    • Beetles do not survive the winter in apartments
    • sudden relocation from warm apartments to the winter cold ends fatally
    • boxes filled with newspaper, wood shavings, and leaves make good transitional quarters
    • Crate should be placed in a frost-free room with openings to the outside
    • Holes are for ventilation and ensure spring outing

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