Learn to Tell the Difference Between Ladybugs and Asian Lady Beetles
Given that 400+ ladybug species live in North America, an infestation in your neck of the woods is highly possible. You’re most likely to get swarmed by hundreds of ladybugs in the fall and spring when they’re changing habitats. In other words, they’re moving in and out of your home depending on the temperature outside.
Although there are worse bug problems you can have, these popular insects can quickly become unwelcome pests. In order to deal with a ladybug problem efficiently, it helps to understand the main difference between a common seven-spotted ladybug and the Asian lady beetle. One of them is beneficial in the garden while the other is an aggressive yard pest.
As with any infestation, you’ll want to contact a local pest control company ASAP. That’s the only way to know for sure what type of household insect or yard pest you’re dealing with. But it never hurts to analyze the situation and pass the information along to your technician.
Ladybug Terminology and Classifications
Things aren’t always quite what they seem in entomology. There are a lot of naming conventions and classifications that can be confusing.
First things first, we have to point out a few key terminology distinctions. Ladybird, another name for ladybug, technically refers to the entire Coccinellidae family of beetles.Yes, beetles not bugs. Asian lady beetles are one of many types of beetles in the ladybug/ladybird family. When most people say ladybug they’re referring to the seven-spotted ladybug specifically, not Asian lady beetles.
Ladybugs: The Good and The Bad
There are over 5,000 types of ladybugs. Not all of them are welcome signs of good luck. Some ladybugs, like the Asian lady beetle, create infestations that can be huge headaches for homeowners.
The problem actually arose because Asian lady beetles are good at controlling hungry pests. They were purposely released in portions of the U.S. to help control scale insects and aphids. Unfortunately, no one foresaw the way the population would explode. The infestations highlighted an unexpected consequence – Asian lady beetles like to overwinter inside.
Physical Characteristics: Ladybugs vs. Asian Lady Beetles
Many homeowners confuse the adorable ladybug for the multi-colored Asian lady beetle. The insects look very similar but there are a few key differences you may notice.
Upon closer inspection, you can see that ladybugs are bright red in color with black spots that range in darkness. Conversely, Asian lady beetles may have pale to dark orange coloring with or without dark spots on the body.
Another defining physical characteristic that’s unique to Asian lady beetles is the white marking on the base of their head. The marking looks like a “W” or an “M” depending on how you’re looking at the lady beetle. The white circles on an Asian lady beetle’s “cheeks” also tend to be much larger than other ladybug species.
Seven-spotted ladybugs are nice insects that calmly crawl around. Asian lady beetles aren’t quite as tame. They’ve been known to bite when they feel threatened.
If you’ve come across a swarm of what appears to be ladybugs take a closer look. If the insects are a light orange color, lack spots, have a white “M” on the head or bite you’re probably dealing with Asian lady beetles.
Tips for Handling an Asian Lady Beetle Infestation
Although there’s no quick fix for an Asian lady beetle invasion, you can get a handle on the problem by contacting a professional exterminator for expert guidance. In the meanwhile, you can use these helpful tips to keep swarming Asian lady beetles under control.
1. Use a water hose or vacuum cleaner.
If you see hundreds of lady beetles inside or outside of the house, don’t just side step the swarm. When you see clusters of insects on the side of your home spray them off with a garden hose before they can get inside. If they’ve already made their way indoors don’t squash them or you’ll be left with a horrible smell. Instead, use a vacuum cleaner to keep the bug problem under control until proper extermination measures can be taken.
2. Seal your house inside and out.
While it may be impossible to make your home entirely airtight, sealing up cracks and crevices will make it harder for Asian lady beetles to make their way indoors. Use caulk and weatherstripping to seal up the areas around doors, windows, eaves and the foundation. Also, check all screens for holes and tears. You’re most likely to see the ladybug swarms on the sunniest side of structures, so pay careful attention there.
3. Clear out vegetation.
In between pest control visits, make sure your landscaping isn’t getting overgrown and adding to the problem. Asian lady beetles are tree-dwelling insects during the warm months. If branches graze the roof and exterior walls it increases the chance of an infestation in the fall.
Are you battling an Asian lady beetle infestation in Alabama? Give Vulcan Termite and Pest Control Inc. a call! Our expert technicians will do a thorough inspection before creating a custom pest control plan to evict the lady beetles.