What do ladybugs eat in captivity

Every child knows the beetles with their typical red armor and black dots. Ladybugs also delight passionate hobby gardeners, who see the little crawlers as a natural predator of plant lice and mites. What only a few people know: a large number of beneficial insects spend the winter in a frozen state. The possibility that the beetles get lost in houses and apartments cannot be ruled out. The ladybirds can be helped with their overwintering with simple means.

Beneficial insects in the garden

Ladybugs are indispensable helpers in the garden. The flyable beetles have an almost irrepressible hunger. Even in the larval stage, the insects devour a total of up to 3000 spider mites and aphids. Even in adulthood, the beneficial insects do not hold back and eat between 50 and 100 pests per day. This insatiable appetite quickly becomes noticeable in the lice population in the garden. Positive for the gardener, negative for the damaged insects. Coccinellidae, the Latin name of the beetles, are an asset to every kitchen and ornamental garden. In order for the insects up to 8 mm in size to feel comfortable, a few precautions must be taken:
  • Offer the beetles many hiding places
  • A near-natural garden with mixed culture is ideal
  • High tufts of grass and piles of stones are preferred
The food source in the form of small pests should also be present. Do not use insecticides from specialist retailers. These remedies only have a temporary effect, especially scale and aphids quickly become resistant to these products and pass this property on to their offspring. In addition to the harmful insects, the chemical club also affects useful gardeners such as ladybirds and parasitic wasps in many cases. For this reason, it is advisable to control aphids and the like with natural means and predators.

Winter aids

Ladybugs come in dozens of different variations. In addition to the classic red representatives with their black dots, there are also species without the dark spots. Shades of yellow and black are not uncommon, but humans do not immediately assign them to the genus "Coccinellidae". Over 70 different species can be found in Germany alone. A large part of it does not migrate to warmer regions shortly before the onset of winter, but looks for a protected place to overwinter in our Breitengarden. The following places are suitable to spend the icy season in a freezing state without prejudice to:
  • Niches in stone and wall niches
  • Wilted piles of leaves
  • Insect hotels
  • Rafters
The list goes on and on. Ladybugs are not picky about where to roost for the winter; those who take the trouble to look for them in winter will find many of the beneficial insects in cavities and crevices. Passionate gardeners can help the little lucky beetles by shifting a large part of the clean-up work to the warm spring. Let the fallen leaves from the trees lie on the lawn. Only when the temperatures rise again can the foliage encourage the growth of moss in the grass. The same principle applies to the radical pruning of wilted parts of plants. Instead, cut these back in the spring. In the meantime, the material serves as a sleeping place for insects in the winter.

Ladybugs have a peculiarity: a large proportion overwinter in groups. Many people are amazed when they see a complete beetle population in the autumn garden. In this case it is advisable to let the little animals rest undisturbed. This is especially true of Harmonia axyridis, the harlequin ladybird, which has been displacing native beetle species for several years due to its ability to reproduce. Just like its conspecifics, these beneficial insects contribute to the elimination of pests.

Tip: Fly screens on the windows and balcony doors have proven effective to protect against a ladybird plague in the house.

First aid in winter

For many people, the question arises how to deal with a ladybug in winter. It is not uncommon for the little crawlers to get lost in our living spaces in search of the right resting place. The warmth and the light prevent the beetles from falling into their vital paralysis.
  • The rapid change from warm to extremely cold leads to the death of the insects
  • Put the ladybugs in a cool room with access to the outside
  • A shed, the cellar or a winter garden have proven themselves for this
Aphids can also appear on the plants when they are overwintered indoors. Dry room air and active heating sources lead to an infestation of spider mites. If you find a ladybug in your home, you can put the animal helper near the plants. As already mentioned, the hunger of the insect is immense and the lice help the Coccinellidae to replenish its reserves for the winter. After the work is done, a leaf bed in a frost-proof, cold room makes sense.

In an emergency there is the possibility to provide the dotted contemporaries with water and food. Special rearing sets for ladybird larvae are available in stores. The food contains sterilized flour moth eggs, which adult beetles can also taste. Alternatively: puree the meat and mix it with the sugar dissolved in the water. Due to the body size, the amount should be small. With the help of a pipette you can put a drop of it in front of the ladybug.

The measure is suitable for making weakened insects fit for the winter. Of course, it is not possible to tell from the external physical condition in which condition the useful garden dweller is. However, this method does no harm and offers the ladybug an optimal start to the winter.

Tip: In addition to insect hotels, you can make special ladybug houses to protect the insects and hang them up in the garden.

Conclusion
Ladybugs are useful, and it makes sense to grab them under their wings effectively during hibernation. Hiding places in the garden in particular, for example in the form of an insect hotel or withered leaves, are preferred by popular insects. If you meet ladybugs in the warm living rooms, you can use simple tricks to make them fit for the cold season. With the first warm rays of the sun, the animals come to life and effectively take care of aphid and mite populations. By the way: living with hundreds of contemporaries has another advantage. In addition to maintaining the warmth, which is so important for the ladybugs to overwinter, the animals can also find a partner more quickly in spring and provide for offspring. After an extended hibernation, this is child's play for the animals.