Ladybugs are cute and harmless little creatures — some might even say they are a symbol of luck. We've become so accustomed to their presence, there's a whole slew of ladybug-themed accessories, kitchenware, and trinkets available online. But, what if we told you there's an imposter on the loose? A lookalike bug known as the Asian lady beetle tends to run rampant in fall and winter months — and here's what you need to know to protect yourself.
What is an Asian lady beetle?
According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), small ladybug-like insects known as Asian lady beetles (Harmonia axyridis) are invading homes in search of a warm place to hide.
“These beetles have been reported to congregate on the sides of buildings by the thousands,” ACES explained. “They will move inside if given the opportunity, and will stain carpeting, wallpaper, and bedding when crushed or disturbed.”
What is the difference between a ladybug and an Asian lady beetle?
Spotting the differences between a ladybug and an Asian lady beetle can be difficult at first, but if you look closely, you'll notice Asian lady beetles have a white marking behind their head. Some will also have dark black spots.
(Photo Credit: Giphy)
Do Asian lady beetles bite?
Although the ACES claims Asian lady beetles are “not poisonous, do not bite or sting, are not carries of disease, and do not eat wood,” a few people in Tennessee Valley beg to differ. In fact, a number of residents have commented on the WHNT Facebook page — a local Tennessee news site — about their experience with Asian lady beetles and their fierce bite.
“Yes, they do bite! And some people have severe allergies to them, as well,” one Facebook user commented. “They do bite and one left a mark on my leg that lasted about two weeks,” another added.
Entomologists at the University of Minnesota Extension seem to agree, noting that “Asian lady beetles can bite hard enough to break human skin, causing minor, short-lived discomfort.”
How do you get rid of Asian lady beetles?
While a broom could easily do the trick, the quickest solution is to vacuum. Using a vacuum reduces your risk of coming in contact with their yellow secretion. Once you've vacuumed, make sure to seal the home's entry points, including any cracks or openings in windows, doors, and pipes.
If you plan on releasing the bugs back into the wild, you should put a napkin or handkerchief between the vacuum hose and the dust collection bag. This will keep the insects contained until they're ready to be released.