Care & Feeding of Domestic Ladybugs

A ladybug (Coccinellidae beetle) just flew up and tried to give me a hickey.

Depending on where you live you may find them in your home around this time of year. I usually come across a dozen or more thoroughout the winter.  Invariably after a warm spell that is followed by a cold snap.   Ladybugs hibernate during the winter, living off fat reserves.  They probably sought shelter in the structure of your home, where warmth has caused them to emerge prematurely or they are seeking that warmth after a cold snap.

I’m always torn on what to do with them. They are highly beneficial insects, so I refuse to kill them, but there isn’t probably much in the way for them to eat indoors (not exactly aphid central in here).  Some people put them outside, but I wonder if they can survive repeated hibernation after emerging.

Because the internet exists primarily for the obsessively curious or easily distracted, I found out the following:

  • In the United States, coccinellids usually begin to appear indoors in the autumn when they leave their summer feeding sites in fields, forests, and yards and search out places to spend the winter. Typically, when temperatures warm to the mid-60s F (around 18°C) in the late afternoon, following a period of cooler weather, they will swarm onto or into buildings illuminated by the sun. Swarms of coccinellids fly to buildings in September through November depending on location and weather conditions. Homes or other buildings near fields or woods are particularly prone to infestation. — University of Kentucky-College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service
  • Ladybugs, while trying to hibernate in your house, live off of their own body fats. They, also, prefer a little humidity. But our homes are usually not very humid during the winter. In fact, they are rather dry causing most of your ladybug guests to die from dehydration. Occasionally, you might witness a ladybug in your bathroom getting a drink of water.  —
  •  Because ladybugs infest homes yearly once they’ve started, many homeowners will put out a Ladybug House for them to overwinter in the next year, in hopes they will stay in the ladybug house instead of in their home.
  • You can even help housebound ladybugs get by until it is more hospitable outdoors, by making an indoor shelter and feeding them small amounts of honey or sugar.  — WikiHow

Ladybug KeyboardThe ladybug that meandered around my keyboard “helping” compose this post has been relocated to the sheltered common area of our complex where he/she may avoid the worst of the weather and still be able to move to greener pastures once the weather improves.


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