Ladybugs (Coccinellidae) are one of the most beneficial insects to gardens and agriculture. Their voracious appetites for aphids and other harmful pests make them a valuable ally in the fight against plant damage.
However, one question that, many people ask is do ladybugs eat ants? The short answer is no! Ladybugs mainly feed on aphids and small insects and tend to stay clear of ants.
But, ants are insects right? so why don’t ladybugs eat them?
Well, In this blog post, we will answer that very question, and also talk about what ladybugs actually eat, with some more frequently asked questions regarding this topic.
What Do Ladybugs Eat?
Most people are familiar with ladybugs! and many have had the pleasure of finding one in their garden. However, these cute little creatures are actually helpful predators that eat a variety of insects that may be feeding off your plants.
These list of insects includes:
- Aphids: Aphids are one of the ladybug’s favorite foods which are commonly found on roses. Aphids also known as greenflies or blackflies produce a sticky substance known as honeydew, which can encourage the growth of mold in plants.
- Psyllids: Psyllids, also known as plant lice, is another type of insect that ladybugs fed on. These insects typically live on the leaves of plants and like aphids, they can cause serious damage to your plants.
- Mealybugs: Mealybugs are soft-bodied insects that ladybugs love to eat. Mealybugs are often found feeding on the sap of plants. These pests can cause leaves to turn yellow and drop off, as well as stunt the growth of plants.
- Scale insects: Another common prey of ladybugs is scale insects. These small insects actually live on the stems of the plants just under the leaves and spend most of their time feeding off the sap.
- Pollen: While most people think of pollen as something that only bees will eat, ladybugs will also occasionally eat pollen. Pollen is a high-protein food that helps ladybugs grow and develop.
- Nectar: Like pollen, nectar is another food that ladybugs will eat on occasion. Nectar is a sugary liquid that helps attract pollinators to flowers.
- Fungi: Although it’s extremely rare ladybugs have been known to eat fungi. However, this will only happens if there is a lack of food for the ladybug.
So, if you see ladybugs on your plants, don’t be alarmed! they are actually doing you a favor by eating these insects. If left unchecked they can end up causing serious damage to your plants and can even transfer diseases from one plant to another.
Why Don’t Ladybugs Eat Ants?
Now that we know a little bit more about what these helpful insects eat, let’s take a closer look at the question of why ladybugs don’t eat ants. After all, ants are insects too, so you would think that they would be on the menu.
If you’ve seen a ladybug eat an ant, it probably wasn’t intentional and may have been mistaken for a different kind of insect. However, this is highly unlikely!
Why Ladybugs Don’t Eat Ants:
- Ants Are Very Aggressive
- They Attack In Clusters
- Their Bite Can Be Fatal
Ants Are Very Aggressive
One reason why ladybugs don’t eat ants is that they can be very aggressive and will usually attack anything that comes near their nest, especially ladybugs.
For ladybugs, the risk simply isn’t worth the reward. While they may sometimes eat other insects, it’s clear that ants are not on their menu.
They Attack In Clusters
One of the biggest dangers posed by ants is their ability to attack in large numbers. When an ant colony is threatened or is in close proximity with other insects the ants will swarm together and try to overrun their attacker.
This can be very dangerous for ladybugs, and it can be difficult to fight them off. Which could lead to the ladybug being killed or at the very least, sustaining serious injuries.
Their Bite Can Be Fatal
If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to get bitten by an ant, you know it can be quite painful. So you can imagine what it will be like for a ladybug. Ladybugs are actually quite delicate, and their exoskeletons are not very strong.
As a result, if an ant bites a ladybug, it can cause serious damage and they can easily puncture the ladybug’s shell and would likely die from its injuries.
Do Ladybugs Eat Ant Larvae?
No, ladybugs do not eat ant larva! and the fact that they would never get close enough to even consider it. The same reasons that prevent ladybugs from eating ants also prevent them from getting close enough to eat ant larvae.
As we’ve established, ants are very aggressive and will attack anything that comes near their nests. Additionally, most ant larvae are actually protected by the adults and are kept deep within the nest where they’re safe from predators.
Unfortunately, Ladybugs would never make it past the swarm of ants no matter how quick they were, and would likely die in the process.
Will Ants Attack And Eat Ladybugs?
Ants are opportunistic feeders, which means that they will eat just about anything they can get their hands on. This includes other insects, such as ladybugs.
If the ladybug gets too close to its nest or poses a threat, the ants will swarm and attack.
The problem is that ladybugs are not equipped to defend themselves against an ant attack. Their exoskeletons are not very strong and can easily be punctured by the ants’ bites.
This means the ladybug will have very little chance of survival if it’s attacked by ants.
However, with that said, there have been ladybug swarms in the past that have been known to fend off attacks. Although there’s no evidence to suggest that they could actually fend off ants, it’s possible that they could in swarms.
If the ants do kill a ladybug the ants will then drag the body back to the nest where it will be eaten by the rest of the colony!
Why Would Ants Attack Ladybugs?
If ants attack a ladybug it’s typically For Aphids. Unfortunately for the ladybug, ants are attracted to the same things that ladybugs are. This means that they will often compete with each other for food.
Aphids are one of the ladybugs’ favorite foods. So, if there is a group of aphids in an area, the ladybugs will be attracted to it as well. This puts them in close proximity to ants, which can often lead to an attack.
Additionally, ants secrete a substance of acid, which can be harmful to other bugs. So if the ant feels threatened it may release this acid on the ladybug as a way of defending itself.
So, it’s clear that ladybugs do not eat ants and there are several reasons why. From the risk of injury to the possibility of being killed, there are simply too many dangers for these helpful creatures.