A-z - Animals

What do ladybugs eat and drink?

Keep reading to watch this amazing video

key point

  • Ladybugs often choose to eat aphids and other herbivorous insects.
  • Most types of ladybugs are omnivorous, meaning they also feed on other soft-bodied insects such as whiteflies, as well as plants, pollen and fungi.
  • Some ladybugs are herbivores, which means they only eat plants and fungi.
  • Ladybugs drink water, nectar and honeydew.
what ladybugs eat
Ladybugs mainly eat aphids, which are small bugs.

© AZ-Animals.com

Ladybugs are small red round bugs with black spots. They can be other colors such as orange, yellow and black, but the most familiar species is the red seven-spotted ladybug. Ladybugs are sometimes called ladybug beetles or ladybugs; their name comes from farmers who prayed to the Virgin Mary to protect their crops. When aphids and other pests invaded their crops, ladybugs came in to eat the bugs and save the crops. Ladybugs are still a farmer's best friend and play an important role in controlling aphids and other insects. So we know they eat aphids. What else do ladybugs eat?

How do ladybugs hunt?

Caucasian red seven-spotted ladybug with black and white spots on elytra and long legs with antennae rising up on the legs of a green inflorescence
A Caucasian red seven-spotted ladybug with black and white spots on the elytra, long legs with antennae on them, in a green inflorescence.

© Sergey/Shutterstock.com

In an alfalfa field, a colony of 1,000 ladybugs nibbles on tiny aphids on leaves. Aphids are wingless, slow-moving bugs and therefore do not involve complex hunting processes. There is no hiding waiting for unsuspecting victims to wander by. The ladybugs basically flew in, found a spot full of aphids, and offered dinner. Aphids will use gravity to drop off leaves and escape, but since ladybugs can fly, they can usually find them anyway.

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What do ladybugs eat?

Animals with exoskeletons - ladybugs
Ladybug on daisy flower. A female ladybug can eat up to 75 aphids a day. They also like to eat scales, whiteflies and spider mites.

© iStock.com/sebastianosecondi

Ladybugs primarily eat aphids, small wingless insects. This is across species, habitats and locations. But there are 5,000 species of ladybugs, with some variation. Some species feed on pollen and nectar. Other species feed on plant parts such as stems. Some species, if aphids cannot be found or are absent, can feed on fungi and molds. Another group fed on mites. If insect eggs are encountered, most ladybugs will also eat them.

Full list of what ladybugs eat:

  • aphid
  • herbivore
  • Mites
  • pollen
  • nectar
  • whitefly
  • Worm eggs
  • mold
  • fungus
  • Drosophila
  • plants (certain species)

How Much Do Ladybugs Eat?

Adult ladybugs eat all day, are less active at night, and can eat up to 5,000 aphids in their lifetime! Ladybugs live 1-2 years.

What do little ladybugs (larvae) eat?

Ladybug larvae and eggs on a leaf.
Ladybug larvae and eggs on a leaf.

© Qiu Jusong/Shutterstock.com

The female ladybug lays her eggs next to the aphids, so when the larvae hatch, they're essentially hatching inside a full-service restaurant. The aphids are there and the larvae can start feeding immediately and forever. Over the next few weeks, they eat large numbers of aphids before moving on to the pupal and adult stages. Ladybug larvae can eat 300-400 aphids in 2-3 weeks!

What do ladybugs drink?

Asian Ladybug vs Ladybug
Ladybugs drink dew from leaves and flowers.

©iStock.com/Milton Rodney Buzon

Ladybugs drink nectar and water. They also feed on aphid honeydew, a sweet-smelling liquid some insects produce after eating plants. Nectar and honeydew provide ladybugs with essential nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Plus, these fluids help keep your body hydrated in dry climates. In addition to drinking fluids from plants and other insects, ladybugs sometimes seek out small standing pools of water to rehydrate when needed.

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What eats ladybugs?

A tree frog with big eyes is trying to catch a fly with its tongue

©Cathy Keifer/Shutterstock.com

Their bright colors and spots remind predators that they're as bad as bad jelly beans, so don't eat them! They have glands in their joints that give off a bad smell, but some animals still prey on ladybugs. What eats ladybugs? The most common predators are birds that can swoop down to eat them, but depending on their habitat, they can be eaten by frogs, dragonflies, and spiders.

What do ladybugs eat in space… wait, what?

NASA conducted an experiment in space with ladybugs and aphids! In 1999, a group of astronauts took four ladybugs aboard a space shuttle to see how gravity affected the aphids' ability to escape from the ladybugs. Here on Earth, aphids simply drop off leaves, using gravity to escape hungry ladybugs. In space, what happens in zero gravity? Teachers and students are encouraged to conduct similar experiments in their own classrooms and compare the results. Have the aphids adapted? Not in this experiment. The ladybugs survived and ate the aphids. But the aphids did leave a legacy of being the first aphid astronauts!


  • Are ladybugs poisonous or dangerous?
  • Ladybug Lifespan: How Long Do Ladybugs Live?
  • Where do ladybugs go in winter?


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More from AZ Animals

featured image

Armyworm - ladybug on green leaf
On a warm spring day, a ladybug sits on a flower leaf. Ladybugs are beneficial insects that eat both armyworm eggs and larvae.

© Mironmax Studio/Shutterstock.com

about the author

I'm a wildlife conservation writer and reporter who raises awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share our planet. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris with a degree in Elementary Education, and I am a former teacher. When I'm not writing, I enjoy going to the kids' soccer games, watching movies, working on DIY projects, and running with Tango, our giant Labrador.

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