Do Ladybugs Damage Plants? Exploring the Good vs. Bad

Everyone knows that ladybugs are the ultimate pest control, but are they completely safe? Do ladybugs damage plants, and if so, how do I stop them? Read on.

Lady beetles or ladybugs are highly beneficial insects that protect your garden from plant pests.

However, not all that glitters is gold, so it’s good to check if these bugs might somehow damage plants too.

Do Ladybugs Damage Plants

Unfortunately, yes, ladybugs do eat plants and even damage them, but not the ladybugs you are thinking about.

Continue reading to learn about which ladybugs are good and which ones are bad.

Some Ladybugs Can Damage Your Plants

Ladybugs are known to be farmer’s friends since they eat up plant pests like spider mites and aphids. But do you know that they can also damage your plants?

Yes, while most ladybugs like to feed on soft-bodied insects, some prefer consuming plants over other food sources.

Two ladybug species, namely, Harmonia axyridis (or Asian lady beetles) and Epilachninae ladybugs, also known as vegetarian ladybugs, feed on plants.

So what plants to ladybugs eat? Some plants they consume may include cotton, maize, legumes, and spinach.

These ladybugs also like to set their homes in the wooden parts of the plants.

How Much Damage Can They Cause?

Let’s first start with the plant-eating vegetarian ladybugs to understand why they are so dangerous, even more than the aphids and other pests that other ladybugs feed on.

Do ladybugs eat leaves?

Yes, but there’s more to it.

The vegetarian ladybugs enjoy eating up the epidermis of the plant leaves, which stunts the plant’s growth.

By the time they are done with the leaves, only a skeleton is left! With no leaves to undergo photosynthesis, the plant ultimately dies off.

But eating them is not the only way that ladybugs can damage the plant.

Do Ladybugs Damage Plants
Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle

Ladybugs can cause considerable damage to plants because they lay hundreds of eggs on the surface of leaves. The female ladybug does this to ensure that the food is easily accessible to her progeny.

Each leaf becomes home to at least a dozen eggs of a single ladybug. You can spot their eggs on the leaf by observing the yellow dots on the top of the leaves.

When the larvae come out, they start feeding on these leaves. The adult ladybug eats up the upper part of the leaf while the larvae consume the lower surface of the leaves.

Together, the family finishes off most leaves of the plant, which can cause death.

Ladybug Lookalikes

Most people confuse them with multicolored Asian lady beetles. They are invasive and have grown to the point where they are causing a resource crunch for the native ladybugs.

The Asian lady beetles, unlike ladybugs, have become a pest.

They are also a nuisance to human beings since they find shelter inside people’s houses during colder months, swarming homes and getting in nooks and crannies everywhere.

On top of it, they also release an unpleasant odor, like stink bugs, when threatened or disturbed. Ladybugs prefer to stay outside during winter rather than infiltrate homes.

When you look at the two species side-by-side, you will notice that ladybugs are smaller and rounder than Asian ladybeetles.

However, both of them have multi-colored bodies with black spots.

Another way to tell Asian lady beetles from a ladybug is that the invasive species have an ‘M’ marking on the space between the wings and head.

Do Ladybugs Damage Plants
Fifteen Spotted Lady Beetle

Things They Can Damage

Asian lady beetles can cause some serious damage to your home.

While the vegetarian ladybugs only damage your plants, Asian ladybeetles can be much more of a handful.

These little critters can damage things like furniture, clothing, and other valuables. Read on to find out what you might need to protect from them.

Stains on precious household items

We have already discussed that Asian ladybugs release a foul odor when threatened or disturbed, but they also leave a yellowish stain behind.

You can find this stain on your household items, including curtains, furniture, and gaps around windows.

Thus, it is always essential to keep your house free from ladybug infestation because the stains are hard to clear.

Wood infestation

Asian beetles seek shelter in dark and enclosed areas, like attics and basements. They infest the wood of precious furniture items during their stay.

You may find an infestation in many corners of your house, but the wooden doors, windows, tables, furniture, etc., attract these bugs the most.

They create small holes and crevices in the furniture, making them weaker. Apart from furniture, they also feed on wooden fabric, which can weaken the foundation of your home.

Pantry food

If you have a ladybug infestation in your house, ensure your food is protected. Most Asian ladybugs can eat any food in your home and within reach.

So, ensure that you take all the possible measures to keep ladybugs at bay from swarming into your house.

Do Ladybugs Damage Plants

Bite human skin

Asian lady beetles ruin your plants, damage your good, and bite your skin if threatened! Their bites may cause temporary discomfort, but they go away within a few hours.

However, if being near insects can give you an allergic reaction, you should seek medical help immediately after the lady beetle’s bite.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do ladybugs do to plants?

Adult ladybugs lay hundreds of eggs on plant leaves, which become food for their larvae.
Dozens of larvae feed on a single leaf, finishing it off, which causes a lot of damage to the plant. Moreover, if it is the vegetarian ladybug, the adults also get in on the act.

What plants are affected by ladybugs?

Maize, cotton, legumes, spinach, beans, and other such crop plants are favorites of vegetarian ladybugs.
These beetles also cause mildew and fungi on the leaves, to the point that they end up damaging the entire plant.

Do ladybugs harm houseplants?

Ladybugs can harm houseplants if they lay eggs on their leaves or eat up the veins in the leaves which carry plant sap.
The female lays hundreds of eggs, and even a dozen larvae can finish up an entire leaf, leading to complete plant damage.

What are the cons of ladybugs?

Even though ladybugs are highly beneficial insects, their biggest con is that they lay hundreds of eggs on the surface of leaves.
These eggs hatch into larvae, who eventually eat the leaves, damaging the plant. By the time they are done, the leaves end up looking like a skeleton.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, some ladybugs can definitely damage not just plants but also furniture, clothing and other household items.

Moreover, the larvae of these ladybugs can damage plants by eating up the leaves. Without leaves, the plant withers away and dies slowly.

Thank you for reading.

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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