The word “ladybug” may sound innocent enough, but if you’ve ever had a ladybug infestation, you’re aware of the havoc these pretty, little critters can cause. Although some species of ladybugs are harmless and can help in your yard by devouring plant-eating insects, they are also capable of invading the inside of your home in droves.
Fast Facts About Ladybugs
Despite the differences between native ladybugs and Asian lady beetles, these bugs are often both called “ladybugs.” However, the two beetles are inherently different. Most importantly, ladybugs are beneficial while Asian lady beetles are aggressive pests and tend to invade homes in lieu of living outdoors. The following characteristics can help home-owners differentiate between a ladybug and an Asian lady beetle:
Color: Asian lady beetles are more likely to have a deep orange color while ladybugs tend to be bright red. Although both species have white markings on the head, an Asian lady beetle will have more white on the cheeks.
Size and shape: Asian lady beetles are typically larger than ladybugs and can grow to the length of 7 millimeters. Ladybugs will be smaller in length. Ladybugs have a rounded shape while Asian lady beetles are slightly elongated with an oval shape.
Distinct spot: An Asian lady beetle can usually be easily identified by a distinct white-colored “M” shape located directly behind the beetle’s head that native ladybugs will not have.
Asian lady beetles will get rid of garden pests like native ladybugs. However, Asian lady beetles are more aggressive and can bite if they land on you. They are also potentially poisonous to dogs. If a dog eats an Asian lady beetle, the chemicals released by the bug can cause chemical burns to the animal’s mouth and digestive tract. The ulcers formed by the burns may lead to issues with the dog’s appetite and the pet could refuse to eat until vet treatment.
Ladybugs are not known to carry diseases. However, if a large infestation is present, there is a chance for allergic reactions to occur. Symptoms can exhibit while beetles are nearby or occur when a ladybug is touched. Signs of an allergic reaction to ladybugs include:
- Red and itchy eyes
- Itchy skin
Seeing one or two ladybugs within your home may not be cause for concern. However, some homeowners have complained about the sheer number of ladybugs that have entered their property. In fact, there have been reports of upwards of 15,000 ladybugs swarming a single home. Ladybugs tend to congregate in the following areas within a property:
- Siding cracks and crevices
- Behind walls
- Building foundations
- Door jams
The most common time of year that a ladybug is likely to seek out shelter within a home will be during the winter once temperatures drop. The ladybug will find a cozy place out of sight to hibernate until early spring. As soon as temperatures warm, the ladybugs will start crawling or flying about the home. The awakening period for ladybugs can last for weeks depending on the size of the infestation and the current weather conditions. A homeowner will typically notice the infestation as the ladybugs explore the house and search for a way outdoors.
Another sign of a ladybug infestation is the presence of a yellow-colored secretion. The secretion is from their blood and has a distinct noxious odor. The substance is staining and can be hard to get out of fabrics such as carpets and drapes. The secretions are also likely to be found on the walls of the home and on windowsills.
Ladybug infestations occur when openings are found that allow the beetles to crawl through. This could include foundation cracks, broken window screens, eaves and siding crevices.
Ladybugs can be hard to remove from the home. As soon as you vacuum up one, another pops up on your radar. Instead, focus your efforts on preventing the bugs from getting into the home. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Make any home repairs before winter rolls around. Caulk all openings around doors and windows to seal any cracks. Check all the window screens to make sure they are tight fitting. Inspect your home’s siding, roofing and foundation to see if there is any visible damage.
- Use citrus oil when cleaning. Although the scents released by the ladybugs may be hard to remove from the home, citronella candles and citrus oils often repel them.
- Use repellent scents to stop ladybugs from swarming. Ladybugs are not a fan of mums, so it may help to have them around entrance ways. Ladybugs are also repelled by the scents released by cloves and bay leaves.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ladybugs
Why do ladybugs return year after year?
When ladybugs find a good hibernating spot, they will release pheromones to attract them back to the site. They also tend to prefer lighter colored structures—in particular if the property receives a lot of warm sunshine. They also seem to be drawn to homes with natural wood siding and properties located in wooded areas.
Will ladybugs cause damage to my home?
Luckily, ladybugs do not feast on building materials such as wood flooring and carpets. Ladybugs usually feed on aphids and occasionally pollen.
Do ladybug houses work?
Homeowners encourage ladybugs to stay in their gardens and out of the homes by building an outdoor ladybug house. However, results are never guaranteed, and many ladybug houses end up vacant despite best efforts at attracting the beetles to them.
Getting rid of ladybug infestations is a challenge. Seek outside help from pest control experts like Carolina Pest Management not only to remove the bugs from your home, but also to keep them from returning. We serve the Carolinas and have provided superior customer service to our valued clients for decades.