How to help the ladybirds in your house in winter

Update November 2014
I first blogged about all the ladybirds gathering on our large South facing windows during winter back in 2011 and since that time have done a couple of experiments to see what’s best to try and keep them safe and protected. I’m aware that some people may say let nature take it’s course but actually, if we didn’t have these huge warm panes of glass which act like ladybird magnets, they might hunker down and sleep quietly though the winter… so it’s partly our fault 😉
I did a bit of research and also have watched them over the last few years:
  • Firstly it’s not great for ladybirds to stay indoors with central heating & high temperatures. It’s too warm and they wake up from hibernation way before their usual March or April, find no natural aphid snacks available and can starve to death. Also a dry centrally heated atmosphere can dehydrate and kill them. That’s why they huddle, to keep moisture up and regulate their temperatures.
  • Ladybirds like to cuddle up together in high up places like around the top of window corners. When they’re all cuddled up like this they’re deep asleep but an extra warm day or high central heating stirs and wakes them into thinking it’s Springtime, which is bad news.Ladybirds in houses over winter
  • The ladybird life cycle is below, that’s a lot of sleeping! If we get a very mild Autumn into winter, many are still awake, looking for food which is getting scarce.Lifecycle diagram
  • If they’ve huddled up in your shed or a coolish room and they don’t bother you, leave them be, but if the room is too warm, bright or well used, you might want to move them. Far better to be tucked up in a ventilated box with pals in a cool dark place than at risk of early wakening / drying out. A greenhouse is a great place for them to overwinter or an outside porch.
  • Use a large match box and pop lots of air holes in it (not too big though). I’ve found that using a very soft small make up / fine paint brush is the best thing to gently catch them in a large match box then slide it closed so it’s dark to calm them down and send them back to sleep if they’ve woken. Don’t shake it about! Ladybirds are relatively hardy when they’ve got their legs all tucked up so if one falls to the floor on its back, gently put the brush near its soon to be waggling legs as it tries to right itself. It’ll cling to the brush and you can pop it back in the box with its pals.
  • I’ve tried bought insect houses and the like and none have worked, the ladybirds just crawl right out and head back up high to windows etc.
  • If you are really kind, you might like to create a special dark shelf up high near a window where they might live over winter. I’m seriously going to ask the joinery firm who are making our new bays to do this 🙂
Last year I used a shoe box with air holes in the top and filled it with leaves, popping the ladybirds in there, probably about 60 of them. In March I put it on a West facing window ledge and by mid-March most had gone. About 15 had died and were left in the box. I’m not sure if this is a natural rate but this year I’m trying a smaller box so they huddle like they do naturally. Maybe the shoebox was too big and some got too cold? I’ll let you know next Spring if it works 🙂
And if you do have a few ladybirds in your home during this mild winter, bear in mind it could be much much worse…. take a look at this article about a US ladybug invasion in Colorado!!

Ladybug invasion Colorado
Now that’s a lot of ladybirds!!

73 thoughts on “How to help the ladybirds in your house in winter

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  1. I must admit that I have never liked ladybirds but having read your article I am feeling a lot more kindly towards them. Perhaps I might even try to make a shelter for them – that is if someone else puts the stray ones in there! Hope you will be feeling better very soon. Ann

    1. I’m delighted to have slightly changed your ladybirds ways. Feeling much better thanks, one of those awful winter bugs – the way you USED to think of ladybirds in fact 😉

      1. Hey Been trying to do research on these bugs. 1 entered my home for the winter (Nov) & here it is 5 months later after spring but temps are still low and we have snow on the ground. So letting it go would only kill her. She eats lettuce, water, raisins, sugar, and chicken breast. Who knew? She wont eat any other meats, dried cranberries, yogurt, mozzarella cheese, peanut butter, honey, or other fruits. Maybe shes fussy. We had no clue that these bugs hibernate for the winter so we check each day to see if its still alive. She sleeps a lot but she likes to get a drink and a bite to eat. It appears it washes itself after eating b4 flying around crawling on plants leafs looking for aphids and a dark place to sleep Its pretty cool to photograph them & watch their behavior. It cleans its wings & flies around every night same time but comes back to its resident to get a drink & eat & sleep. Im thinking maybe this ladybird has no intentions on moving on out. Ive had her for almost half her adult life so she should be dead soon. Im running out of food ideas. Its not like i have access to aphids. Thanks for sharing your experience on this subject.

  2. A few weeks ago I discovered a few ladybirds huddled together in the top corner of our bedroom window. I’ve been meaning to Google this for a while and just did so. After your advice,using a soft brush I transferred them into a small pierced empty perfume box which I’d put a few dry leaves in and placed this on our bbq in the outhouse. I hope I’ve done the right thing.

    1. That’s very kind of you Rachel. They’ll have found a cold, high spot like they love but central heating or too early Spring warmth can kill them early. It’s better for them to be in an outhouse etc. Just make sure the box has ventilation, I check on mine once a week abd open the box gently, and don’t forget it in March time. Put it in a high place which gets slowly warmed by the Spring sun to mimic what would happen naturally. Let me know what happens 🙂 x

      1. I’d leave it on its own, moving it seems unnecessary unless the area gets very warm & you think it might dry out over winter. Maybe if so, gently move it with a soft make up brush into an open match box & put in an outside shed high up on a shelf so not too cold, but where it’ll warm up naturally in Spring?

      2. Last year I moved our ladybirds into the summer house in a box with air holes and they all died. ,This year I have left them alone in the corner of the window and have placed a lid with sugar and water on the window cill , they do keep going walk about and then return to the top corner of the window, will keep an eye on them and hope they survive

      3. One year I opened the box and thought all mine were dead. Then I popped them on a branch in the early Spring sun, went off to do something else and when I came back an hour later, all had flown off!! If your room isn’t over heated and you’re happy to have them there, I’d leave them alone to hibernate till March / April. The only issue is when they wake in warm spots in mid-winter and have no food. That’s when they die 😦

  3. Hi,
    I have just the one ladybird, a 7 spotter
    It was in my bedroom, but recently I had an operation and have turned the heating up and it has woken up
    It is now in my bathroom and has been quite active
    Can you give me any advice, I cannot find any friends for it to ‘huddle’ with, so have not put it outside
    Thanks

  4. Hello. I have found a lone survivor on my bathroom floor. I have picked it up and put it in a box lid, on a cool high shelf in the dark. Is it likely to survive alone? Or does it need others/leaf bedding etc. to keep it warm? Any tips you can give me will be most helpful. Thanks x

  5. Some years we have them, some years not. I can’t bear not doing something so I have been searching the web and am going to make them a home. Even if somehow they don’t make it, I will have tried.

    1. I think it’s a bit cold for them all to appear at the moment, they like to hibernate somewhere warmish like in eaves or top corners of bay windows. Tbh I’ve tried those ladybird houses & not had much luck with them!

      1. Hello! I received the question and answer about the ladybirds. Recently, we had been inundated by them, and I wanted very much to save them. I got a terrarium and added water, food in the form that was supposed to be good for crickets and other bugs. I didn’t use honey because I have to be careful of ants. They seemed quite okay, but slowly began to die, which seemed very sad. I’m not sure what I would have changed, but I wish to try again. Lady bird fancier

  6. I am finding ladybirds in my bedroom and when I can I put them outside on the windowsill, I think they are alive, especially last night as one flew onto my pyjamas while I was reading in bed,perhaps it was the flowers on my pyjamas!
    If i find anymore I will try and put them in a box as recommended.
    It is interesting reading the comments. Edna

    1. Hi Edna, at this time of year I set them free outside as they’re now waking up to go and start finding food! They do fly to the light at night, one landed on my book and scared me to death!! Sian

    2. Dear Moregeous and all,

      It has been so helpful to read what has been written about ladybirds. I can see now that as helpful as I was trying to be, the area where I had them was too warm. I will try again next winter. The question I still have is that no matter how little the container was where I put the water, they seemed to get onto their backs and just flail. The other is that honey has been suggested as a way to feed them, and I am very hesitant to do that for fear of drawing ants. Any ideas? Thanks for the wonderful and helpful words, everyone.
      Kalani Goins

  7. Ladybirds invade my large victorian house every winter. this year I was in trouble as I had had all my window ledges painted and cracks sealed. Now they are happily sleeping in a small – medium wooden box with air holes no sign of life yet still cuddled up will consider letting them out next month .- one so far has ventured out and looks fine. Pleased to hear i am doing the right thing ! Jo

    1. @bobmcmayday; Ladybirds/Ladybugs are in fact a very beneficial beetle. Not only do they pollinate plants (i.e: Vegetation for animals that you might eat, and/or fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains, etc. that you consume yourself) they also eat the bad little bugs (aphids, whitefly, etc.) that harm and can kill these flowering plants. So without these critters, you wouldn’t have a toilet to flush them down, because you’d have no waste byproduct from food and therefore no purpose for a toilet… Are you scared of them? I guarantee you that there exists ‘bugs’ that you should be afraid of, consisting of some that won’t reside in your home if the Ladies have already taken that perfect spot.
      /^\_________

    1. No, I make then big enough for air to get into but too small for them to leave the box. That way they all stay huddled up and then I release them mid March time or once I start seeing aphids around for them to eat!

      1. Hello. I am really hoping to save a lot of ladybirds this winter; last winter I was not successful and I felt terrible. I have a kind of terrarium that I plan to put down into an unfinished room that is cooler than the kitchen by far, but does not freeze. I have read that they need some water, but no matter how small the container, they ended up upside down in it. I also read that they need a bit of honey or something, but that will draw ants. I would be so grateful for any help you can give me, and thank you for this site.

        Kalani Goins

      2. I haven’t given any of the ones I’ve popped into air-holed shoeboxes water, just left them in a cool dark place and then taken them outside in early Spring which I start seeing aphids in the garden, on warm day. They warm up and fly off. The more I read & try things out, the more I think the trick is to get them in a box together with air, no heating and decent ventilation, so they keep each other warm. Nothing artificial needed! x

      3. Dear Moregeous, I am so appreciative of your work as I do hope to be more successful this year. It has been a very hard year of drought, and everything is hoping it will break. I will do everything I can for these dear little creatures, and thank you again for your help.
        Kalani Goins

  8. Hi- I found a lady bug in my house and he looked dead – so when I picked him up I saw his little legs moving – now I don’t know if he’s dead or dying or trying to hibernate or is hibernating – how can I tell the difference if he’s dying or if he’s hibernating ? And if he’s hibernating where should I put him ! How do I feed him ? Do I need to care for him daily until March ? He moves around from time to time but he looks funny only 2 or 3 legs come out and he keeps belly flopping on his back or seems to have a problem moving .. How can I tell the difference and what should I do ?

    Thank you

    1. He’ll probably be very tired and half hibernating. Suggest if you’ve got one on his own, lift him with a soft makeup brush, and pop him in a warm spot outside. The warmth usually wakes them up a bit then they naturally find others in a hiding place.
      I only ‘re-home’ my ladybird kids when they all gather together on my big south facing windows.

    2. It’s so sweet of you to be bothered about him btw. They hibernate and don’t eat over winter so you’ll struggle to feed him as such and shouldn’t really need to x

      1. Hi thank you so much for your reply and detailed information to help me with this little guy and thanks for the beautiful comment – I don’t know what it is but whenever I see any animal who is struggling – or suffering or in a need of help or a push I can’t shy away from that ..

        Ok so I’d like to put him outside but it’s not that warm out anymore at least I don’t think so for the lady bug- it’s 6 degrees outside – I’ll have sun during the day tomorrow is it too cold to put him out ? If not where should I put him ? Near a tree ? On a tree ? In some sort of cover ? Which cover ? What if the sun doesn’t wake him up and he freezes to death while the winter comes ?
        And if it’s too cold for him where should I put him ?

        Thank you so much for your Help I have learnt so much on your site about lady bugs – you are sweet to care for them as well

      2. It is getting late into winter now, he might not have the energy to find some pals. They do seem to come round and wake up in full sun, maybe pop him near a bowl of water to get hydrated. Leave him alone in full sun, he probably just disappear off to hibernate 🙂

  9. There’s a ladybird in my toilet room, i’ve stuck an empty cigarette box in the corner and am going to keep the window open (to keep the temperature natural and to possibly allow food to come inside) Anybody more experienced know if im doing good?

  10. I have found a number of ladybirds on the underside of the lid of my Garden Rubbish wheelie bin. Would it ok just to put the bin in my garage until spring or should i transfer them into a box of some kind.
    Jim H

    1. They’ll all gather together to keep warm under the bin lid & I’m sure they’ll be very happy in your garage until March or so when the weather warms. Nice of you to care about them Jim! 🙂

  11. We have about 20 gathered in our ‘cat room'(we have the cat litter trays in there and use it a storage room – the heating is off and the window is about an inch open most of the week) so I’m glad I found this post! I’ll just leave them there till spring as its the coldest room and they seem pretty happy. If I see any more anywhere I’ll take them over 😊

    1. Great to hear Cat-with-cats 🙂 I move them with a soft make up brush so as not to damage their cute little legs, if you find one wandering on a warm window pane, try that #toptip

      1. There is a ladybird on my south facing indoor window sill – on it’s back and it’s wings seem to be protruding. I have turned it over as I have seen it’s legs moving, but it keeps going onto it’s back! I don’t want to keep disturbing it – is this a natural hibernating position for a solitary ladybird and would I be best to move it?

  12. I have brought in a chilli plant to save it from the frost and yesterday noticed a ladybird with its wings fully out(drying them?). I moved plant to a colder room but today it i still there in the same position. Has it woken from hibernation? What should i do? I care more for the ladybird than the plant, there are some aphids on the plant too.Should I put the plant complete with ladybird in the shed?(no windows though)

  13. I am twelve and I looove lady birds and when I found one it was in the corner of my mums room but once I read this I realised it would get too warm and we use that room a lot ! So I made a small box and filled the bottom with leaves then I put holes in it and I put it in my room in a cold cupboard I hope I am doing the right thing

    From belle M

    1. Ahhh hi Belle, that’s so sweet of you. They do tend to like company so it’s best to check that he has lots of oxygen and it isn’t too dry in the cupboard. Maybe a garage or shed is best x

  14. Hi, we have 1 ladybird in our warm living room, am I best moving it to the cooler porch? She keeps walking about on our wall 😦

    1. I’d maybe move singles with a soft make up brush to a cooler spot out of a heated room, maybe somewhere where they can keep cool but not freeze. On a warm day they should have enough energy to find their own comfy spot x

  15. Hi Moregeous, I have a single ladybird on our southfacing large french door frame in the kitchen. He moves about every day. I gave him a soaked raisin and put some soaked paper towel near him. He seemed to eat a long time, sticking his little “nose” in the raisin and moving about after a while to another spot on the raisin. As he is on his own I don’t want to shut him away. I have been doing this for 2 days now. He seems to sleep all night but starts moving about again in the morning. What do I best do for him? Would be grateful for any suggestions x

  16. Just thought you might be interested in this…

    2017 New discovery…..LADYBIRDS EAT PEOPLE! I rescued a ladybird while hoovering this morning and kept him/her on my finger so that I wouldn’t hoover him up. I had knocked my finger and there was a little blood. After a while I felt a tickly bit on my finger and saw the ladybird settled at the blood. Looking through my jewellers magnifying glass I could see his little mouth parts moving excitedly and he was pulsating… I wonder if he was very thirsty or enjoying a nice meal. I didn’t grudge him a bit of my blood…but it got a bit sore after a while so I gently took him off.

  17. Hello there all, I have recently moved into a flat, in November. It’s a top floor flat and there are two ladybirds living with me. I must say that it’s an old abbey with wooden staircases and it smells old and damp( part of its charm) The one flies about in my bedroom and the other stays in my bathroom by the window. both were cuddling, or humping the other day. When I go to bed at night, one flies by my ear several time and when I awake in the morning, it is either behind my head on the wall or on the pillow beside me. I’ve got orchids in the bathroom and bedroom so assume they’re hanging about for some aphids.

    1. Definitely huddling not humping I’d say 😂 They fly about at night attracted by lights which are on, before we fitted our new windows we’d often get stray Ines buzzing around in our South facing bedroom on warm winter days 🙂

  18. All honesty I am terrified of all insects I don’t kill them…but they scare the living daylights out of me…I have had two ladybirds go flying from somewhere low and suddenly glued to my lampshade and I’ve (my partner) carefully removed them with a small plastic lid and cardboard then put them in the shed in our garden..,Super confused to what we should do if we find more especially since they keep coming from the ground and flying straight up and if putting them in the shed is the safest option for them or if its better to put them somewhere else?
    Thank you very much

  19. I have a ladybird in my living room, it’s a warm room, what’s best to do with him? Have put him a a paracetamol box with holes in it and some tissue is this right?

    1. No, I’d pop him in a shed or cool garage and he’ll find a cosy nook to huddle into and hibernate. A warm room with central heating may dehydrate him and kill him off!

  20. Hi,

    I found a ladybug wondering around so we put it in a glass jar and poked holes in the lid, added shredded up pink paper, and tried to feed it a damp raisin. But no matter what we do It keeps going to to the top of the jar. I would love to know why this is and how I can help the ladybug feel more at home.

    1. They always climb up to high places to nestle in, they do this on my windows too. I’d release the beast and let him find his own way! He’ll find his own bugs to eat x

  21. Thank you Sian, I have learned so much! While reading this ‘my’ solitary lady bird has disappeared from out of an open lidded wooden tea box so I am hoping he/she has gone up to the skylight corner and back into hibernation. If he/she reappears I will follow your advice. What a charming and informative thread. I hope Bob redeems himself…..

  22. I have lots of ladybugs in our south facing windows. I plan on making them a ‘hibernation box’. It is early April here in Canada and there is still lots of snow on the ground and below freezing temperatures. I have an unheated screened porch that also has closed glass windows. I could put the box out there until warmer weather arrives or I could put them in the basement, which is the coolest room in the house but has no windows. Which would be better and do they need a damp paper towel in the box with them? The wet paper towel would freeze if out in the porch. Thanks for your advice.

    1. Hi Esther, I’ve found it’s definitely the South facing windows which attract them, but yes, the cold weather means no food. The warm early days waked them up prematurely. As long as the box isn’t plastic and sealed they should get enough moisture from the air, mine seem to. A shoe box with holes in it suffices 🙂

  23. Ladybirds live in my house in winter and come out every spring and die everywhere. I mean hundreds of them! On a warm day on one window pane alone I have counted 50 and that isn’t a full size window just one of several. What can I feed them to stop them dying? This happens every year. In the kitchen I notice them having sips of water and crawling on fruit or dishes etc which are by the sink for washing up. Would they like sugar water or honey or something else or must I just pick up dead ones everywhere? My dog helps as she crunches up some of the dead ones!

    1. I think they are dying as they are trapped in a very warm place and can’t get out Rosemary, so they become easily dehydrated and die. They are at the warm window wanting to get out. If you open the windows in Spring to let them out, then more will survive x

  24. Greetings,
    Every spring I find hundreds of ladybugs in “this old house”. I assume that they have awakened and started moving around and are yearning to go outside. However, it can still be quite cold in Maine in April. Will the bugs survive if I put them outside this early? I assume that if there awake and moving around, they’re ready to go.

    1. I tend to wait until I see aphids on the roses etc Marge, then I know there’s food about! But do check the box and see if they’re moving around as you don’t want them to wake up and become dehydrated x

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