Ever seen a gathering of Ladybugs who appear to be dormant? Or even just one on their own? Sometimes they might even seem lifeless so you think they’re dead or dying. Well this that’s not always the case.
I’ve seen lots of these in the past, many of them appear in dark, cool and possibly moist areas but possibly away from where it’s colder outside. You may even find them in your house and wonder why they’re attracted to it. Or, if you lift up a rock in the yard for example you may see one or more there too.
I’m going to explore this further and provide some insights for you on what they’re actually doing.
What do Ladybugs do in Winter? Ladybugs are cold-blooded insects, requiring sufficient external heat to remain at the right temperature. The onset of cold weather will signal to Ladybugs that it’s time to search for a warmer place to spend the winter. During this hibernation phase, they’ll often gather in groups to create a warmer environment. Also…
Ladybugs Hibernate in Winter
Another reason why Ladybugs hibernate is simply lack of available food. Most of the food resources they would normally hunt – which for the most part is Aphids, has all but disappeared by the time the onset of cold weather arrives, so the only alternative is to wait it out.
Can Ladybugs Survive in Winter?
Absolutely, they are not unique in this sense. Like many insects, Ladybugs too have evolved to survive Winter months. Providing the Winter is neither too long, nor too harsh. If its too long, then their ability to sustain themselves during that time becomes diminished and they could die, or be forced to emerge too early. If it is too harsh and they do not have sufficient shelter, they may die from the cold.
Often some can be found hibernating under tree bark or in the knots and nooks of trees. But alternatively they’re more than happy to find shelter in sheds and garages. Anywhere that fits the criteria.
One perfect place for them is a Ladybug House. Specially designed Ladybug houses can prevent them from entering your house too – and from Amazon this one is perfect!
Where Did All the Ladybugs Go? Ideal Hibernating Conditions
In their normal habitat, they will seek a place to hibernate during the Winter months that suits a number of criteria. In the wild these places are not that hard to find, but as you can imagine some offer better protection than others. The warmest places are of course near where humans have heating, see what else attracts them to you house here!
Where Do Ladybugs like to Hibernate?
- Where predators are less likely to reach them
- Away from harsh winds
- Where temperatures remain sufficiently above freezing
- Away from frost catching areas
- A slightly moist area is ideal
- Under any shelter available to avoiding snow cover
- A place least likely to be disturbed
- Where other ladybirds may be present
When Does a Ladybugs Winter Start? at What Temperature?
This varies depending on both which hemisphere the Ladybugs are in and at what point the onset of cold weather begins. Ladybugs will avoid anything from
In the Northern Hemisphere you can expect this to be around Mid October onward. Whilst in the Southern Hemisphere you can expect it from late May or June and onwards till late August or into September.
Why Do Ladybugs Hibernate in Swarms, or Groups
During the Summer months, Ladybugs will emit a pheromone this is primarily to deter predators from eating them, but is also used to attract a suitable mate.
Did You Know…
A Ladybug Group or Swarm is actually called
a ‘Loveliness of Ladybugs’
Find out More Interesting Facts About Ladybugs
During winter, if a Ladybug finds what it believes to be a suitable hibernation spot, then it’s believed this same chemical is emitted to attract other Ladybugs to that same spot. This is why one ladybug can often soon become hundreds – if not thousands, within a matter of hours or days.
The reason for using pheromone to attract other Ladybugs is, as mentioned early, many Ladybugs nesting in one place offers greater protection against the elements.
Do Ladybugs Eat or Drink Whilst They’re Hibernating?
Whilst Hibernating Ladybugs slow down their metabolism and enter a state of sleep during that period. During this time they sustain themselves by living off fat reserves gained during the summer month.
It is known that Ladybugs prefer to hibernate in moist, almost damp environments. This is so that they can at least take on moisture enough to keep them hydrated. If Ladybugs are hibernating in your home, where no moisture forms or droplets of water are likely to land nearby, and/or if the heating is higher and constant, it will create a drier environment. Too dry and the Ladybugs are liable to die from dehydration.
Did You Know…
The growth of a younger Ladybug pauses during Winter months
and resumes in Spring
See more Interesting facts about Ladybugs
When Do Ladybugs Wake up from Hibernation?
Like many insects who hibernate, you can expect Ladybugs to start to become active and emerge from their hibernation areas toward the end of Winter. Then, they’ll likely spend their time seeking out food and regaining their strength before the mating season. It is after the Mating season and toward the height of summer that you will really start to see many more of them around.
Do Ladybugs Migrate?
Ladybugs can migrate – of sorts, but most strands of Ladybug do not go far. Even though they are capable of great distances. So you will likely only see them migrating to other more local areas. Some types of Ladybug, in particular the Convergent Lady beetle, often migrate into local mountain regions in Colorado for example.
Generally speaking, they might find an area of land that is less prone to frost, or perhaps has better outbuildings they can hibernate in. However, it should be said that whilst some have pheromone trails laid down by previous generations and do go to the same winter spots. For the majority of Ladybugs, this travel is not usually any part of an instinctive mechanism to ‘Fly South’ for the Winter.
This generally more limited movement rate is partly the reason why, following the introduction of the Asian Lady-Beetle to non native regions, the pace of invasion within that new area can appear to be fairly slow – by our standards.
How to Put Ladybugs into Hibernation Mode
If you are researching Ladybugs further and want to understand how the process of hibernation works for them. Or, if you are looking to calm Ladybugs down in order to take a closer look or transfer them. Then you can induce hibernation by emulating the cold quite easily.
Simply put them in a non-metal sealed container (with air holes) and place them in a refrigerator at around 35-40°F (around 2-4°C). They can remain in the fridge certainly for a couple of days. I’d advise you not to leave them beyond this as a Fridge is not a normal hibernation environment for them to survive in.
Above all – and this probably goes without saying, but do not place them in the freezer. IF that is the only place you have, then do not leave them in there for more than 20 minutes as this environment is simply too cold and would kill them.
And don’t forget about them !
For me, even though I have put them in the refrigerator before, I’d advise against doing it for more than a few hours. There’s usually no need to cool them down at all. I’ve never felt the need to do this myself, just buy them at the right time and let them go in the garden at the right point. Be aware, any mishaps are possible so this should be avoided.
How Long Can Ladybugs Be Refrigerated?
In truth it’s possible to keep your delivery of Ladybugs in the refrigerator for more than a few days. In fact, you could keep them in there for 2-3 months. However, beyond two months you should expect there to be a decline in numbers as their food stores run out.
As a rough guide, I’ve created a small table below which should give you a guide on what % of the pack will survive to expect over the length of time for storage.
|Length of Ladybug Storage (35-40°F)||% That Survive|
|> 3 Months||60% – Declining Daily|
I would recommend the following steps when looking after your Ladybugs in the refrigerator
- Ensure the Ladybugs will not be crushed or shaken during storage
- Occasionally moisten inside the bag very lightly with water every 1-2 weeks
- Do not keep them longer than necessary
- Do not forget about them!
- May is the optimum time for release (northern Hemisphere)
I’ve admired Ladybugs for many years, they’re one of those things about Nature that just have that reassuring cycle to them. Regardless of what happens, they know what to do and when to do it and they instinctively carry it out – every single year. I’d say a true lesson in the art of stoicism!
I hope you found this article useful. Let me know what you thought in the comments and I’d love to see.
Or whilst you’re here you might like to see what Ladybug items I’ve searched out for gifts, but not just any gifts, I’ve sourced only the really stylish, the useful (meaning the ones that actually work!) or the gifts with meaning. The kind of things you might want to give to someone special or educational activities for kids. Be sure to check them all out on my resource page.
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How Long Can Ladybugs Live Without Food? During the summer
Why are there ladybugs in my house in the winter? As the cold winter season approaches, Ladybirds will try to seek out a place with sufficient warmth, away from predators to hibernate. The release of special pheromones can attract many Ladybugs into one place. So you might soon find your home the subject of a Ladybug Infestation. To find out how, why this happened and how to prevent it click here.