same-day serviceLadybugs/Asian Lady Beetles

ASIAN LADY BEETLE
Harmonia axyridis

Not to be confused with the Seven-Spotted Ladybug, The pest Ladybug that many Ohioans know all-too-well is the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle. It has been found overwintering in Ohio since 1993, becoming a yearly pest for many Ohioans.

Lady Beetles are usually about 1/4" in length and round in shape. Their heads are marked black and white, and their Elytra (wing) colors vary widely between yellow, tan or red with black spots, or even black with red spots. Some red or tan varieties have no spots at all.

Beginning on warm, sunny days after the first chilly nights of mid-to-late September and early October, large numbers of these Lady Beetles can be found on the sun-warmed south and west sides of light-colored homes and other buildings. In their native Japan, they flock to south and south-west facing cliffs and rock outcroppings, crawling into cracks and crevices to overwinter. Here in Ohio, they will enter any opening they can find around windows, doors, siding, chimneys, and utility outlets, then remain there for the full Winter. It is not uncommon for thousands of these beetles to congregate in attics, ceilings and wall voids. Due to the warmth of the walls, they will move around inside these voids and enter the living areas of the home.

Lady Beetles do not eat wood, building materials or human food. They also do not bear any diseases, but they can still be direct pests to people. Lady Beetles can bite, which can cause irritation and stinging for many people. They also secrete a yellow defensive chemical that smells quite foul and can lightly stain walls and other surfaces. If this chemical is secreted, more beetles will "come to the rescue." Some people report contact dermatitis in reaction to these secretions. Although it is not as common as dermatitis, some also report sinus irritation. Immediate hand/skin washing is recommended for those who are highly sensitive or allergic. In at least one study, sinus and skin irritations began to decrease immediately following the removal of Lady Beetles from homes.

Treatment of the outside west- and south-facing walls can offer some relief from infestations where the task of completely sealing the exterior is difficult or impossible, and should be completed in August or early-September.

After the Lady Beetles have taken up winter residence, insecticidal treatment in voids may kill thousands of beetles; however, the dead Lady Beetle carcasses will present a major food source for other household pests such as Carpet Beetles, which - upon population explosion followed by "running out" of dead Lady Beetles - may subsequently attack woolens, stored dry goods, or other animal products in the home. Beetle light traps may be purchased from most pest professionals. Do not use electrified traps ("bug zappers") for beetles inside the home.

Lady Beetles should never be crushed inside the home. In addition to the foul smell, beetle forewings have long been used for color dyes. Similar to compounds from crushed Cochlear beetle forewings, used for years in red softdrinks which Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts nicknamed "bug juice," Lady Beetle forewings contain compounds that will cause stains, particularly on porous surfaces such as painted walls and wood. These stains can be permanent, and in some cases have even been known to lightly "bleed through" new paint applied over top of the stains.

Ohio's official State Insect is the Seven-Spotted Ladybug - Coccinella septempunctata - and they perform a very important agricultural task: aphid control. They are not to be confused with the Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle pest.

This page is intended as a quick reference. Pest experts should be contacted for case-by-case evaluation if you believe that you have a pest problem that requires professional assistance.

Some information found in this overview has been compiled from household pest information sheets published by the Ohio State University Extension Office: HSE-1030-01, and by the Penn State University Extension Office: Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle Fact Sheet. This information is included on this web site strictly to help in the identification of various pests, and no profit is directly derived there from.

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