Do ladybugs eat mosquitoes? (Are Ladybugs Natural Predators?)

Ladybugs come in many different colours and beautiful patterns. Children and adults love these innocent creatures because, besides being colorful, they are also graceful and harmless to humans. In fact, ladybugs are considered a sign of good luck in some cultures. 

Farmers are happy to host ladybugs in their gardens because they eat plant-destroying pests, including aphids. Research shows that a single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 insects in her lifetime. So, do ladybugs eat mosquitoes? Ladybugs avoid eating insects that feed on blood, like the anopheles mosquito and bed bugs. However, they may eat the occasional male mosquitoes who solely feed on nectar and other plant fluids. Overall, ladybugs do not eat mosquitoes.

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What Are Ladybugs? 

People are mostly familiar with the seven-spotted ladybug that boasts a shiny red and black body. 

But unbeknownst to many, there are nearly 5,000 species of ladybugs around the world. Some species have spots, others have stripes, and others have no markings. 

Despite their name, these cute critters are not bugs. Botanically, they are beetles and are sometimes referred to as lady beetles. Typically, beetles and bugs belong to the same family of insects. But insects are classified into 26 orders. Bugs belong to the order Hemiptera, whereas beetles belong to the order Coleoptera.

Perhaps the most significant difference between the two cousins is that bugs commonly feed on plants. They have a mouth that resembles a straw, which they use to suck up liquid meals from plants and sometimes humans/animals. On the other hand, beetles possess incredibly strong mouth parts that allow them to feed on a wide variety of plants and animal materials, including fungi and rotting wood. 

Did you know that ladybugs are colourful for a reason? That's right! Their beautiful markings and bright red coloring with black spots are warning signs in nature. They alert would-be predators that besides tasting terrible, they are also toxic. When protecting themselves against predators, ladybugs release a nasty and very stinky odor. 

So, what are ladybugs? Ladybugs are insects in the order Coleoptera of the beetle family. They are not bugs and are a farmer's best friend because they devour plant-destroying insects. 

Why Are These Beetles Called Ladybugs? 

It actually seems odd that an insect that isn't a bug goes by the name 'ladybug.' Well, there is a very interesting and curious history behind this name. During the medieval period, long before traces of the chemical elements known as pesticides were discovered, farmers used to do farming.

In Europe, though historians are not exactly sure when crops were extensively destroyed by pests. The disaster became so severe and even life-threatening at a time when everyone grew their own food or bought it at the farmer's market.  

Much of medieval Europe was dominated and informed by the Catholic Church. So, the devout Catholics started praying earnestly, seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary on their behalf that God would eliminate the pests from their crops. This was soon followed by swarms of 'bugs' that devoured and wiped out the destructive pests, some of which are thought to have been aphids. 

Consequently, the European farmers named the 'miraculous bug' our Lady's Beetles or Beetle of our Lady. Some say that the hardened and curved red wings (elytra) protecting the ladybug's soft body represent the cloak the Virgin Mary wore, and the black dots symbolize her sorrows. ‘Our Lady's Beetles’ was eventually shortened to ladybug. Europeans commonly refer to them as ladybird beetles.

What Do Ladybugs Eat, Anyway? 

As mentioned earlier, there are many species of ladybugs, and they don't all consume the same thing. Hence, they have an incredibly diverse diet. Generally, ladybugs are carnivores and, in particular, insectivores. They commonly feed on the sup-sucking aphids and other soft-bodied insects like mites and fruit flies. 

According to some experts, one ladybug can consume up to 5,000 aphids in her lifetime. In her larvae stage, a ladybug consumes insects by hundreds and can eat approximately 400 aphids in two weeks. And an adult ladybug can devour even 50 aphids each day if she's hungry. Some ladybug species also enjoy a nice meal of plants like rotten leaves, fungi, and mildew. 

Because they seem to feed on all the dreadful pests that attack crops such as cabbage, tomato, passion fruits, kale, and broccoli, ladybugs are a very welcome guest of gardeners and food producers alike. 

Okay, Do Ladybugs Eat Mosquitoes? 

This may be bad news for those struggling with a mosquito problem— no, ladybugs DO NOT eat on mosquitoes. These captivating beetles avoid feeding on insects that suck blood, including the female anopheles mosquito. However, it's not unlikely that ladybugs will feed on the occasional male mosquitos because they only feed on nectar and plant juices. 

Therefore, you might want to find another alternative to eliminate mosquitoes from your garden or backyard. For instance, you can grow specific plants that effectively repel mosquitoes. An excellent anti-mosquito plant is lemon grass, lavender, citronella, and geranium basil.

Should I Introduce Ladybugs in My Garden?

Ladybugs are natural predators. But they only feed on specific pets such as aphids and mites. So yes, you can encourage the ladybug population in your garden to help keep down the population of terrible pests like flies and mites. However, ladybugs will not make a significant impact on the population of invasive mosquitoes.

Can Ladybugs Become a Problem in My Garden?

For the most part, ladybugs feed on bugs and flies. In fact, their appetite for insects is almost insatiable. However, some species can be more of a problem than a benefit in your garden. The plant-eating ladybugs can potentially harm your plants, especially when they are present in large numbers. But again, ladybugs aren't social insects, and you'll rarely see them in large groups.

However, during the cold seasons, when temperatures drop, these cute little creatures can become a nuisance. They seek warmth to hibernate, entering your house via the small cracks and gaps along window sills, under clapboards and any other openings.

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes from Your Garden

  • Eliminate all sources of stagnant water

The first step to getting rid of mosquitoes for good is to get rid of standing water. This includes containers, cans, bottles, tree stumps, and birdbaths. You should also avoid overwatering your grass and ensure good drainage in your yard.

  • Clean gutters

Gutters filled with debris such as leaves and dirt can easily trap water and create a perfect breeding site for mosquitoes. Consider cleaning your gutters often, at least twice a year. 

  • Attract natural mosquito predators

Some bugs enjoy feeding on mosquitoes. Therefore, attracting them to your garden means bringing down mosquito populations. A good example of these bugs includes dragonflies and spiders.

  • Grow plants that repel mosquitoes 

For those homeowners with a green thumb, there are many plants that naturally keep mosquitoes away. A good example of these plants includes rosemary, basil, lemongrass, and any herbs that belong to the mint family.

Final Thoughts 

Ladybugs are voracious predators. They have a huge appetite for insects; an adult can eat up to fifty or more aphids in one day. This makes them a beneficial addition to your garden. If you want to attract ladybugs to devour the prolific plant eaters in your garden, you can plant specific herbs and flowers like angelica, cosmos, coreopsis, and cilantro.

Unfortunately, ladybugs do not eat mosquitoes; when they do, it is the occasional male mosquito. Perhaps you're struggling with a mosquito invasion? In that case, the most effective thing is to engage professional pest exterminators.

Alternatively, you can grow flowers that repel mosquitoes, such as citronella and lavender, eliminate sources of standing water, treat ponds regularly, and place scented oils around your backyard.

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