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The Harms of Ladybugs
September 29, 2020
As far as insects go, ladybugs are better-liked than most: they eat other insects, don’t spread disease, and in folklore are considered good luck. Basically, they’re considered a non-threat, and its rare that someone sees a ladybug and has the instant negative reaction that they have when they see other insects. However, despite this perception, this doesn’t mean that ladybugs are entirely harmless. In fact, there is a specific type of beetle that actually does pose some threats, and it’s only fairly recently been found in North Carolina: the Asian Lady Beetle.
What is the Asian Lady Beetle?
Asian Lady Beetles are insects that, as their namesake implies, a type of beetle that is native to Asia. However, in 1992 they were reported to be present in North Carolina. Interestingly, even though these insects were originally native to Asia, and are only one of the thousands of species of ladybug, they have actually become the most prevalent ladybug in the United States.
What do Asian Ladybugs Look Like?
These ladybugs have a few distinct features:
- They are ¼ of an inch long.
- Females are slightly larger than males.
- Colors vary. Some have yellow, orange, or beige forewings, while others are bright reddish-orange in color.
- They typically have distinct black spots, although some have faded spots, and some have none at all.
How Asian Lady Beetles are Harmful
While truthfully these insects don’t pose the sort of threat that other insect pests do, that doesn’t mean that they’re totally harmless. So how are they harmful?
- They Can Be an Allergen- When the weather starts to get cold, Asian Ladybugs will swarm indoors sometimes in the thousands. This can be an issue; in fact, one review showed that around 21% of people might have a sensitivity to ladybug allergens. This can mean cough, eye inflammation, runny nose and stuffiness, and even acute asthma for those affected by ladybug presence.
- They Can Be Harmful to Dogs- On occasion dogs will...well, eat ladybugs, and this can cause a poor reaction, according to the American Kennel Club. While reactions are rare, they can include:
- Behavioral changes
This isn’t to say that Japanese Lady Beetles don’t also have beneficial qualities--in fact, they are quite well known as prolific aphid eaters, which makes them well-known as helpful to farmers trying to protect their crops. When the weather cools down and crop season ends and they start to make their way inside, though, ladybugs can quickly become a nuisance to both people and dogs
Preventing Japanese Lady Beetles
If you have a dog, or are concerned that you may be allergic to ladybugs, or just don’t want to deal with a horde of them hanging out in your home, there are a few things that you can do to prevent them:
- Seal external cracks and openings that ladybugs could potentially crawl through.
- Install screens over roof vents and checking current window screens for signs of damage
- Try planting mums and lavender, which are known to naturally deter ladybugs.
Getting Rid of Japanese Ladybugs
If you’re in a situation where prevention is no longer an option, there are a number of things that you can do to get rid of Japanese Lady Bugs:
- Vacuum- Vacuuming up ladybugs is an easy way to get rid of them, as long as you don’t have too many. If you decide to use a vacuum, make sure that you clean out the bag relatively quickly, to avoid future clogging.
- Blacklight Traps- Blacklight traps work well for catching beetles in some situations such as commercial facilities, such as hospitals and some manufacturing plants. Some people use light traps inside their homes but these do not always produce the best results, so be aware your home blacklight trap might not be the best solution.
- Biological Control- A native tachinid fly species called Strongygaster triangulifera attacks lady beetles by laying their eggs on them. Newly hatched maggots will bore into and gradually destroys the lady beetle.
- Contact the Professionals- While a simple vacuuming might do the trick and is simple to achieve, chances are that you aren’t going to introduce a tachinid fly species into your home to take care of ladybugs. If your ladybug problem has gotten out of hand, it’s time to contact the experts at A-1 Pest Control for a free estimate. You can learn more about our Home Shield home pest control services, which we recommend for ladybug control, here.