Ladybugs are cute little creatures, but can be a bit of a problem in your home, especially the Asian lady beetle. While ladybug varieties look similar, the common “ladybird” and Asian beetle act very differently. Both are beneficial in gardens and will feast on aphids and other insects that destroy plants. The common ladybug is less invasive, however, whereas the Asian lady beetle will form sizeable groups and seek shelter in your house when it gets cold. Here’s how to differentiate and fight an Asian lady beetle or ladybug infestation.
Telling the Difference
At first glance, they are hard to tell apart. However, Asian lady beetles are larger and their color ranges from red to orange. The common “Ladybird” ladybugs are predominantly red, with round, stubby bodies. Their small, black heads showcase tiny white spots on the sides, resembling eyes or cheeks. Asian lady beetles’ heads are longer, and have a distinct black “M” or “W” marking on white heads. They will bite if threatened and can leave a yellow, smelly, non-toxic substance on surfaces in your home in a much higher concentration than other ladybug species.
Ladybugs won’t infiltrate your home, and prefer instead to overwinter in outside shelters. Asian lady beetles will be drawn to the warmth of your house and will gather on mass around sunny windows, roof shingles, and near door and window frames where they tend to get in through cracks. Once inside, they will find a warm, protected place to set up camp, leading to possible year-round infestations.
Seal Exterior Entry Points
As mentioned, both varieties are beneficial in the garden so it’s best not to kill these little guys. Instead, prevent them from being able to enter your home in the first place. Seal any cracks or openings in door and window frames, brick mortar joints, roof shingles and vents, and any other spot where materials meet outside. Use a proper exterior caulk or foam and once it hardens, spray with an all-natural insecticide.
Dealing with an Infestation
Once ladybugs or lady beetles are inside, it can be difficult to get rid of them. Diligence is necessary, after prevention. Sweeping and swatting will only irritate them and cause the stress-induced yellow fluid. Use a vacuum with pantyhose or a filter around the wand as they are sucked up, and then you can catch and release them outside. This way you don’t have to take off the filter and bag—which they will eventually crawl out if left inside. Most bugs including the beetle variety detest the smell of citrus, so spray essential oils or citrus-y cleaners around windows and other entry and hang out spots. Only use traps if absolutely necessary, like ones used to catch flies or wasps.
Cleaning Up After an Infestation
The ladybug or Asian lady beetle likely won't cause any big mess in your home, but they will leave behind pheromones which brings them back to the same spot. Consistent vacuuming of the area, as well as cleaning and wiping any surfaces with vinegar or natural cleaner once they are gone is important at deterring a secondary invasion.
Ladybugs and their evil twin, the Asian lady beetle, are only pests if they become an overwhelming presence in your home. While they are relatively harmless, most of us would rather not share our house with the tiny, flying creatures. By taking the appropriate steps of deterring entry points and diligent eradicating once they get in, these beetles will eventually make their way back towards your garden, and dine on other problem pests.