Ladybugs are one of the most popular beneficial insects in the garden. They have a craving for aphids, but the insects are not the beetles’ only source of food.

Basic food: ladybugs

Beetles of the genus Coccinellidae are not only known and welcomed because of their appearance. Often referred to as lucky beetles, ladybugs are one of the most important pest controllers in the home garden. Above all, the two-spot (Adalia bipunctata) should be mentioned here, which is effective against aphids (Aphidoidea) and scale insects (Coccoidea). Numerous species of ladybirds feed on aphids and scale insects and eat 50 to 60 of these a day, which stops an infestation by the pests within a short time. But these are not the only insects that are part of the ladybug’s diet:

  • Sawfly larvae (Tenthredinidae)
  • Larvae of all kinds of beetles (Coleoptera)
  • Bugs (Heteroptera)
  • Spinnmilben (Tetranychidae)
  • Fransenflügler (Thysanoptera)
  • in rare cases butterfly caterpillars (Lepidoptera)

Spider mites are not insects, but arachnids, which ladybugs also like very much. Like the adult beetles, the larvae feed on the same prey and in most cases consume more. If prey is no longer available, many species will switch to a variety of fruits, although this is not the preferred food source.

Note: The sixteen-spotted (Halyzia sedecimguttata) and mushroom ladybird (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata) do not feed on insects, but fungi. These mainly include mold or mildew.

Vegetable food

While most species within the genus eat insects and are predatory, there are numerous taxa that specialize in plant-based diets. In the local latitudes, these include:

Twenty-four spot ladybird (Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata), Source: Gilles San Martin , Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata , Edited by Gartendialog, CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Vierundzwanzigpunktmarienkäfer (Subcoccinella twenty-fourpunctata)
  • Asian ladybird (Harmonia axyridis)

However, the diet of these two species is very different. While Asians mainly eat a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, as well as grains, the twenty-four-spot ladybug specializes in certain plants:

  • Nelken (Dianthus)
  • Soapwort (Saponaria)
  • Leimkräuter (Silene)
  • Pechnelken (Lychnis)
  • Lucerne (Medicago)
  • Klee (Trifolium)
  • Turnips (Baia)
  • Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)

In southern Europe, Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata is often considered a pest because of its prey on sugar beets (Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris convar. vulgaris var. altissima) and potatoes. The Asian, on the other hand, stays in beds or orchards, for example, and feasts on the plants available there. The species Bulaea lichatschovi in ​​the larval stage feeds exclusively on plant pollen instead of leaves or fruits, which is unique within the family.

What do ladybugs drink?

No matter which Coccinellidae species it is, they all depend on sufficient moisture. Because of this, they need to drink regularly to avoid dehydration. Insects get most of their liquid from their food or water sources. This includes dew, raindrops, or a shower from your lawn sprinkler. Because of this, heat waves are not well tolerated by the beetles. You need between two and three drops of water per day. Since many species of ladybirds eat flower nectar in addition to their food, they also receive liquid throughout the day.

Tip: Use spray bottles, bottle caps half-filled with water, or moistened cotton balls to hydrate thirsty lucky bugs. They usually appear weak and sluggish when they have to drink.

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