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  • Ladybugs are an important asset to plant life because they love to eat garden pests. It is because of this that they are called the "gardener's best friend." There are over 400 species of ladybugs in North America, and keeping some inside as pets can be fun. Then in the spring, they can be a wonderful addition as a pet in your garden.

    Indoor Pet Diet

    Put your ladybugs in a bug box or terrarium to keep them safe inside your home. While in there, you can either place moist foliage or a damp paper towel inside so the ladybugs can drink. Feeding them moistened raisins or other sweet, non-acidic fruits will keep them happy and help maintain their fat reserves until you are ready to release them in the spring.

    Spring Diet

    Aphids are a ladybug's primary diet in the springtime. Aphids are very small insects that live on plant stems or on the underside of leaves. They come in a variety of colors including green, black, brown, pink and red. A ladybug lands on a plant with aphids. After biting the aphid, a ladybug softens it by injecting it with saliva before eating it. A ladybug can eat up to 100 aphids in a day.

    Summer Diet

    Caterpillars, plant nectar and mushroom spores are the ladybug's diet during the summer months. Ladybugs may supplement their normal prey in times of scarcity with other types of food, like flower nectar, water and honeydew.

    Larval Ladybugs

    Larval ladybugs also eat aphids as well as other insects with soft bodies, such as mites and white flies.

    Vegetarian

    Not all ladybugs eat aphids and insects. Ladybugs of the subfamily Epilachninae feed on plants such as squash and beans. Ladybugs of the subfamily Coccinellinae feed on fungal growths (mildews) on the leaves of plants.

    Importance

    Pet ladybugs play a very important role in the environment. By consuming plant-damaging aphids, mites and other insects, ladybugs help to protect and preserve plant life without using harmful pesticides.

    Source:

    "Face to Face with the Ladybug;" Valerie Tracqui; 2002

    University of Florida

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