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Asian lady beetles, also known as multicolored Asian lady beetles or Harmonia axyridis, may look cute, but they can be quite destructive and infest your home. Although these bugs can bite, Asian lady beetles are not generally harmful to humans or pets. They are, however, an invasive pest across North America.
In this guide, learn more about Asian lady beetles, how to keep them out of your home, and what to do if they get in.
Fast Facts About Asian Lady Beetles
Asian lady beetles were first introduced to the United States in 1916. These little creatures look like yellow or orange ladybugs, and if they seem to be showing up everywhere, it’s because they are.
This invasive species was brought in initially to help control other small pests. In fact, they did American farmers a considerable favor by nearly wiping out the soybean aphid population. More recently, entomologists began questioning Asian lady beetles‘ value as natural pest control agents since they can contaminate grapes and other soft fruits, causing them to have a foul taste or odor.
Where Do Asian Lady Beetles Live?
Native to Asia, these insects now inhabit most U.S. states and much of Canada. They naturally prefer living in open fields of corn, soybeans, roses, alfalfa, or tobacco. As summers wane and autumn chills set in, Asian lady beetles can start to infest homes and other buildings. They wait out the cold months by hibernating in these protected places—a process called overwintering.
These insects are naturally attracted to light/dark contrasts, so they choose buildings with dark shutters against light siding, for example. Once they find a suitable dwelling, Asian lady beetles typically make their homes in sheltered areas such as wall cavities and attics.
What Do Asian Lady Beetles Eat?
Like North American native ladybugs, Asian lady beetles prefer to eat soft-bodied insects— aphids, mites, and mealybugs—and their eggs. They will also eat any other insects small enough for them to handle, including ladybugs and other beneficial insects.
What Is the Life Cycle of an Asian Lady Beetle?
Part of the family of small bugs called Coccinellidae, Asian lady beetles lay their eggs in early spring. In about three to five days, the eggs hatch, and the new larvae begin searching for food. Larvae eat the same thing as adults.
The larvae will molt four times, becoming bigger with each molting cycle. After the final cycle, the insect—now in its pupa stage—will be a full-fledged adult. The development process from egg to adult requires about 15 to 25 days. As adults, Asian lady beetles usually live about 30 to 90 days, but they can hold on for up to three years.
What’s Wrong with Asian Lady Beetles?
Although they can weed out garden pests, Asian lady beetles can become a nuisance when they invade your home or garden in large numbers—which they will. Asian lady beetles congregate in protected indoor locations in the winter. So, where one lands, many others will likely follow.
If you disturb an Asian lady beetle—especially if you swat or squash it—it will emit a foul-smelling, yellowish fluid. This fluid, technically the insect’s blood, can permanently stain carpets, curtains, and walls. Thankfully, this annoying secretion is not poisonous to humans.
Asian lady beetles may also bite humans and cause allergic reactions in some people. Though these insects are generally passive and only bite when searching for moisture or food, allergic reactions include itchy nose and eyes, asthma, welts, and swelling.
Outdoors, Asian lady beetles will eat other helpful insects once the aphids are gone. In addition, these insects carry a microsporidian parasite that can kill native ladybugs. They can also damage crops if they are present in large quantities.
How to Tell the Difference Between Lady Bugs and Asian Lady Beetles
Asian lady beetles are often mistaken for ladybugs, but there are a few key differences between them.
- Asian lady beetles are slightly larger than traditional ladybugs.
- Asian lady beetles also have an M-shaped mark on their pronotum (the area between the head and the thorax), which ladybugs do not.
- Asian lady beetles can range in color from light yellow to red, while traditional ladybugs are always red with black spots.
- Asian lady beetles are attracted to light, so they often congregate around windows and doors in homes.
How to Prevent Asian Lady Beetles
If you’re starting to see orange or yellow “ladybugs” near your home, it’s time to take action before they create an infestation. Here’s how.
Replace Damaged Window or Door Screens
All insects enter your home through cracks, spaces, tears, rips, or openings. Sometimes, they fly right through an open door. One of the quickest and easiest ways to keep out infestations is to replace or repair your screens.
Seal Cracks Around Your Home
Asian lady beetles are attracted to light-colored surfaces and typically enter through cracks or holes in buildings. To prevent them from getting inside, seal any cracks or gaps around windows, doors, and other openings with caulk or weather-stripping. You can also use a screen to keep them out.
How to Remove Asian Lady Beetles from Your Home
If you want to get rid of Asian lady beetles, you can vacuum them up or seal cracks and crevices to keep them out of your home. You can also find products that kill and repel Asian lady beetles that you can use outdoors.
Do Not Rely on Insecticides
Most commercial indoor pesticides do very little to deter Asian lady beetles. A fogger or chemical spray is unlikely to deliver the results you want. Sometimes, though, targeted insecticides applied outdoors can prevent the insects from taking up residence in your home.
Invest in Light Traps
Light traps capitalize on Asian lady beetles‘ fascination with light/dark contrasts to attract these insects to a special light bulb that includes pheromone lures. The light trap then captures the bugs in a water tank. You can purchase light traps from your local garden-resources supplier or buy them online from a retailer such as Amazon.
Put Your Vacuum Cleaner to Good Use
The best way to get rid of these insects is to vacuum them up and then release them outside. Be sure to discard the bag so the once-captive lady beetles don’t try to fly back into the house.
Call an Exterminator
You may want to call an exterminator if you notice many lady beetles on or near your property. A pest control professional can discover where your infestation is coming from and help determine the best approach to controlling it.
While ladybugs are helpful insects in your garden and landscaping, Asian lady beetles are not. Keep your home secure against Asian lady beetles by replacing or repairing torn screens and sealing cracks around your windows or doors.
If you start seeing these pests in your home, your best approach is to vacuum them up and discard the bag. You may also want to invest in a light trap.
Finally, talk to your exterminator about the best way to prevent infestations by Asian lady beetles and other pests.
Asian Lady Beetles FAQ
Should I get rid of Asian lady beetles?
Yes. Although they offer some benefits as aphid controllers, Asian lady beetles also eat native ladybugs and other helpful insects. If you do find them in your home, don’t panic. Although they can bite, Asian lady beetles are not generally harmful to humans or pets.
Can Asian lady beetles hurt you?
While Asian lady beetles are not known to transmit diseases to humans, they can be a nuisance. They will bite, and some people are allergic to the bites. While the exact number of allergy sufferers is unknown, it is estimated at around 21%—or about half the percentage of people allergic to dust mites.
What are the symptoms of an Asian lady beetle bite?
If you are not allergic to Asian lady beetle bites, you may not even know you’ve been bitten. However, people with sensitivity to H axyridis can show typical allergy symptoms such as a chronic cough, rhinitis, or conjunctivitis.
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