How to Take Care of a Ladybug

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16-09-2019, 01:00
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Updated: September 9, 2019 You might not know it, but ladybugs make good pets—they’re cute, quiet, easy to catch, and don’t take up a lot of space. Though these beautiful bugs are happiest roaming free, you can easily create a comfortable habitat for them in your own home. All you need is a large enclosed container full of sticks and rocks to replicate their natural environment and enough food and water to meet their basic needs. It’s a good idea to release your captive ladybugs back into the wild come fall so that they can hibernate and mate to produce a new generation.

Housing and Feeding Your Ladybug

  1. Set aside an enclosed container to serve as a habitat for your ladybug. Miniature terrariums and bug boxes are designed just for this purpose, but you could also use a large plastic food storage container, or even the box you originally caught your ladybug in. Ladybugs love to fly around and explore, so the more space you can provide, the better. Ideally, the container you use should be around 1 square foot (0.093 m) or bigger.
    • A soft-bristled brush can come in handy for coaxing your ladybug out of its temporary container and into its new home.
    • Make sure that there are holes in your habitat big enough to let air in without letting your ladybugs out.
  2. Put down some sticks, rocks, or shells to give your ladybug a place to hide. Line the bottom of your container with materials collected from the ladybug's natural habitat, such as grass, leaves, twigs, and small stones. Arrange your cover items throughout the container however you like. That way when your ladybug is feeling shy, it will have somewhere to go to get some privacy.
    • If you can’t find any good natural structures, a few small pieces of folded cardboard will also do the trick.
    • The cover you add will double as a fun obstacle course that will give your ladybug plenty of exercise.
  3. Feed your ladybug small amounts of raisins, lettuce, or honey every day. Soak 2-3 raisins in water for a couple minutes to soften them up before dropping them into your habitat. You can also tear half of a leaf of lettuce into small pieces and allow your ladybug to graze. Yet another option is to mix a dime-sized blob of honey with 2-3 drops of water inside a bottle cap.
    • To avoid overfeeding your ladybug, plan on only giving it food once or twice per day.
    • Keep in mind that ladybugs eat a lot for their size, so if you want to take care of a lot of them at once, you’ll need to supply enough food to keep them all satisfied.
    • Aphids are a dietary staple for ladybugs in the wild. If you plan on keeping your ladybug longer than a week or two, it’s recommended that you catch or buy some aphids to keep it happy. You can often find a ready supply of aphids on the same types of plants where you caught your ladybug.
  4. Place a damp paper towel or sponge inside your habitat as a water source. Wet the paper towel or sponge thoroughly, then wring out most of the excess water. Ladybugs don’t drink much, so this should be enough to quench their thirst for days.
    • Check your water source every couple of days and change it out or re-wet it when it feels dry to the touch.
    • Try not to leave any standing water in your habitat. Since ladybugs are so small, they could easily drown in even a small pool.
  5. Release your ladybug after a few days so it can thrive in its natural habitat. Ladybugs can get pretty comfortable indoors, but the insect’s true home is the outside world. Some may not do as well as others in captivity—they may hide constantly, become anxious or inactive, or display other signs of stress. As difficult as it may be, it’s best to return your pet to its preferred environment once you've taken care of it for a little while.
    • It’s okay to hold onto your ladybug a little longer, as long as you can continue to provide adequate food, water, and room to play and hide.
    • Try to release your ladybug at the end of summer while it’s still warm outside. Otherwise, it may struggle to find food and shelter.

Catching Ladybugs

  1. Look for ladybugs in places with lush growth. Ladybugs can often be found clinging to leaves, blades of grass, and other types of vegetation. They’re especially fond of warm, moist areas like fields, glades, and cultivation sites like gardens and crop plots. Just make sure you get permission before hunting for ladybugs on a stranger’s property.
    • The best time to go looking for ladybugs is late spring or early summer when things are beginning to bloom.
    • As the weather starts to cool off, ladybugs often seek out warmth under rocks, inside hollow trees, and around the openings of homes and other structures.
  2. Scoop up your ladybug gently by hand for a simple solution. Most of the time, catching a ladybug is as easy as reaching out and plucking it from its hiding spot. Once you’ve got it in your hand, cradle it in your palm and form a “bowl” with your fingers to keep it from scuttling out.
    • If you’re worried about hurting your ladybug, you can also rest your hand on the surface next to it and wait for it to crawl right on.
    • Ladybugs are small, delicate creatures, so be careful not to pinch, squeeze, or grip them too hard.
  3. Use a net to sweep or “beat” for large numbers of ladybugs at once. Take a small butterfly net and slowly glide it along the edges of tall grasses or the leaves of flowering plants to shake stray ladybugs loose. If that doesn’t work, hold your net up under leafy trees and shake or beat the branches to catch the beetles that fall.
    • If you don’t have a net, another option is to use an upside-down umbrella or tarp to collect the insects and debris that you sweep or beat from thick foliage.
  4. Craft your own simple ladybug feeder to make the bugs come to you. Hang a section of bamboo, heavy cardboard tubing, or PVC pipe somewhere outside your home and scatter a small handful of damp raisins inside. The fruit will attract ladybugs from the surrounding environment, and the tube will give them a place to live, play, mate, and relax.
    • You can turn pretty much any tube-like object into a ladybug feeder, including glass jars and old aluminum food cans. If you want your feeder to be able to stand up to rain and other weather conditions, go with a more durable material like bamboo, PVC, or metal.
  5. Lure ladybugs in after dark using a makeshift light tent. Prop a sheet of plywood or cardboard, a lawn chair, or a similar flat surface against one of the exterior walls of your home and drape a white cloth over it. Plug in a small flood light or black light in front of the covered board and leave it on for a few hours after dusk. As ladybugs begin to gather on the cloth, simply brush them off into a small collection container.
    • You can pick up a cheap portable flood light or black light from your local hardware store or home improvement center for as little as $10.
    • UV light will draw curious ladybugs out of hiding, much the same way it does moths and other insects.
  6. Store your ladybug in a box or jar until you can set up a habitat for it. After you’ve succeeded in catching one or more ladybugs, transfer them to a small ventilated container until you can prepare a more suitable shelter. Don’t forget to poke holes in the top of the container so that your ladybug will be able to breathe.
    • Cardboard food boxes with resealable flaps make excellent temporary housing for ladybugs.
    • Don’t leave your ladybug in its capture container for more than a few hours. If it overheats or loses oxygen, it may die.

Tips

  • Look for aphids to feed your ladybugs on the undersides of the leaves and stems of flowering plants and trees. Aphids are tiny, semi-translucent insects that are typically light green in color, though they may also be white, yellow, red, brown, or black.

Warnings

  • Glass containers don’t make suitable habitats for ladybugs. Glass has a tendency to hold heat and could kill your pets if it gets too warm.
  • Ladybug bites can cause minor itching and irritation, so it may be safer to use a stick, brush, or similar tool to collect and move the critters if you want to avoid discomfort.
  • Always wash your hands after handling ladybugs. The insects secrete a foul-smelling fluid when scared or threatened, and in some cases have been known to carry diseases.

Things You'll Need

Housing and Feeding Your Ladybug

  • Large enclosed container
  • Grass, leaves, twigs, or shredded paper
  • Rocks, sticks, shells, and other natural structures
  • Raisins, lettuce, or honey
  • Paper towel or sponge
  • Small terrarium or bug box (optional)
  • Soft-bristled brush (optional)
  • Cardboard (optional)
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Aphids (optional—for feeding)

Catching Ladybugs

  • Ventilated box or jar
  • Butterfly net (optional)
  • Umbrella or plastic tarp (optional)
  • Bamboo, PVC pipe, or cardboard tubing (optional—for ladybug feeder)
  • Plywood sheet, white cloth, and flood light or black light (optional—for light tent)
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