Ladybugs and Asian Lady Beetles | Differences and Similarities

Written by Thomas Matthews

Ladybugs and Asian lady beetles are usually mistaken for being the same insect. In fact, some farmers call them by both names. But actually, they are two different insects. Interestingly, they have some similarities that can confuse people. However, they also have some major differences that you should know.

What is the difference between a ladybug and an Asian lady beetle? As a major difference, a ladybug is a beneficial insect. On the other hand, an Asian lady beetle has the same benefits but is being considered a pest. Both of them also have notable differences in physical appearance and eating behaviors.

At first glance, ladybugs and Asian lady beetles may look the same. This is probably because they are closely related to each other. But when it comes to their characteristics, one of them is a good insect while the other one is “bad.” As a farmer, you should be familiar with them so you will know how to handle them.

What Are Ladybugs?

What Are Ladybugs

To begin with, ladybugs are not really bugs. Instead, they are a group of beetles that are also called lady beetles and ladybirds. Ladybugs are famous for feeding primarily on aphids. Therefore, they help the growth of tree crops, grain crops, vegetables, and other plants. Ladybugs also eat mites, insect eggs, and larvae.

There are about 5,000 different species of ladybugs around the world. However, the most common species across North America is the seven-spot ladybug, also known as Coccinella septempunctata. Female ladybugs lay their eggs very near to the colonies of aphids, so their alligator-like larvae can easily attack them.

What Is Special About Ladybugs?

Amazingly, a single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. But in case there’s a shortage of aphids, and other plant-eating pests, females lay infertile eggs on purpose. These infertile eggs will then serve as a food source for hungry larvae. In fact, cannibalism is common to ladybug siblings during tough times.

Do Ladybugs Bite?

Ladybugs bite humans but on very rare occasions. They may bite you if they feel threatened, or they mistake you as a source of food. Although ladybug bites may cause some irritation to your skin, they don’t lead to serious injury or illnesses. You may even think of them as a slight pinch and not a real bite.

Are Ladybugs Poisonous?

Ladybugs are not poisonous to humans and pets. These beneficial insects may occasionally bite humans but they don’t sting. However, they squirt a noxious and odorous fluid from the joints of their legs if they are disturbed or feel threatened. This also serves as their defense mechanism against predators.

What Do You Need to Know About Asian Lady Beetles?

What Do You Need to Know About Asian Lady Beetles

As the name suggests, Asian lady beetles came from Asia and were brought to the US back in 1916 by the Department of Agriculture. Nevertheless, their first field populations were found in Louisiana in 1988. The main purpose of its importation was to control scale insects and aphids, and it became successful.

Scientifically known as Harmonia axyridis, Asian lady beetles became household pests when they started to overwinter in homes and buildings. Swarms of these lady beetles can cause huge discomfort to homeowners. They enter through cracks and crevices and congregate in ceilings, attics, and even wall spaces.

What Are the Unique Characteristics of Asian Lady Beetles?

Adult Asian lady beetles have a black M or W-shaped design at the center of their pronotum (the disk-shaped section directly behind their head). Nonetheless, this unique marking may be thick or thin and sometimes broken. Among all the beetle species, they also have the widest range of colors and number of spots.

Do Asian Lady Beetles Bite?

Asian lady beetles bite humans. Their bites can be painful and very bothersome, especially if many of them are biting you at the same time. However, they don’t plan to attack humans. Just like ladybugs, they will only bite if they are hungry and if they accidentally landed on you while searching for food.

Are Asian Lady Beetles Poisonous?

Asian lady beetles are not poisonous. However, they release stinky body fluids when they are distressed or threatened. Just like ladybugs, this unique beetle species emit hemolymph, which is equivalent to blood. It is neither toxic nor poisonous, but it can cause some minor chemical burns to your dog’s mouth.

What’s the Difference Between Ladybugs and Asian Beetles?

What’s the Difference Between Ladybugs and Asian Beetles
  • Ladybugs have white markings on the sides of their head, wherein they look like cheeks. On the other hand, Asian lady beetles have an M marking at the back of their head.
  • The ladybugs are slightly smaller than Asian lady beetles. Depending on their species, adult ladybugs can be between 0.8 mm to 18 mm. On the other hand, adult Asian lady beetles measure about 7 mm long.
  • Ladybugs have an oval or round body, while Asian lady beetles are a bit longer.
  • The ladybugs are mostly bright red with black spots on their wings, while Asian lady beetles can be orange, red, and yellow. Some of them may have black spots, but some may be spotless.
  • Both of them enter houses during the fall season, but Asian lady beetles are more annoying than ladybugs. These uninvited guests reproduce very quickly at home and will swarm all over your house.

What Are the Similarities Between Ladybugs and Asian Lady Beetles?

  • Ladybugs and Asian lady beetles belong to the Coccinellidae family and the Order of Coleoptera.
  • Both of them feed on aphids. They also don’t eat wood or fabric. Therefore, they will not destroy your house and belongings.
  • They both undergo complete metamorphosis and have four life cycle stages – egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
  • Both of their larvae and adults are aphid predators.
  • They both have wings and can easily fly from one food source to another.
  • Both of them may bite humans, but they don’t sting. Their bites also don’t transmit diseases to humans and pets.
  • They both are very attracted to light, which is one of the reasons why they enter houses and buildings with lots of lights on.

Is It Bad to Have Ladybugs in Your House?

The answer depends on how many ladybugs are in your house. As mentioned above, they don’t transmit diseases, and they don’t destroy properties. In fact, these beneficial insects enter houses during cold months only because they need a warm place to stay. Once warm days are near, they will go away on their own.

Aside from aphids, ladybugs also eat mites and other small pest insects. Therefore, having a few of them inside your house is good. On the other hand, they can be nuisance pests if they start to multiply. Although this is very rare, they can still be very annoying. This time, it’s bad to have them in your house. 

How Do I Get Rid of Ladybugs in My House Naturally?

Again, ladybugs are beneficial insects, and their bites are not dangerous. But when infestation inside your house is already starting, you should get rid of them at once. And no, you don’t have to kill or even harm them. Therefore, here are some of the effective ways to drive them away from your house naturally:

  • Sweep ladybugs out or use a vacuum cleaner. After doing this, put them away from your house, but not where your dog loves to hang out. Replace your vacuum bag to make sure no ladybug will go back inside your house.
  • Use duct tape. Wrap it around your finger with the sticky part on the outside. This is to avoid yourself from being bitten while you are picking them up. However, this can be challenging when there are already lots of ladybugs.
  • Use essential oils. Ladybugs hate the scent of some essential oils, such as lavender, clove, and citrus. Spray them on ladybug-infested areas or entries, such as window cracks. You can also light some citronella candles.
  • Spread some bay leaves. These spicy leaves can effectively repel ladybugs. Put them around your house, especially in heavily infested areas.
  • Create traps. Use non-acidic fruits or fruits with high sugar content as bait. This includes bananas, watermelon, and mangoes. Once ladybugs are already on them, safely put the insects outside your home.
  • Spray apple cider vinegar. This will surely irritate ladybugs and will drive them away. Simply mix it with water and spray only a little amount in your house. 

What Not to Use While Getting Rid of Ladybugs Inside Your House?

Some other products are also effective as ladybug repellents. However, they contain strong ingredients that can also kill these friendly insects. Therefore, you should avoid using them to get rid of ladybugs. Here are some of them:

  • Insecticides
  • Diatomaceous earth (DE)
  • Soapy water
  • White vinegar

Should I Kill Asian Lady Beetles?

Should I Kill Asian Lady Beetles

You should not kill Asian lady beetles. Despite being terrible household pests, they are also beneficial to farmers and gardeners. Instead of killing them, you should only drive them away using the same techniques mentioned above for ladybugs. But if they become a perennial problem, you may ask help from pest control experts.

Summary

Knowing the difference between Asian lady beetles and ladybugs is important, so you know how to deal with them. The former is a nuisance pest indoors, so the best way to control them is by preventing them from entering your house. Start by sealing all their possible points of entry, and don’t wait for winter to come.

Related: How to Get Rid of Asian Lady Beetles: A Complete Guide

List of Sources

Bessin, R. (2019). Ladybugs. University of Kentucky.

Ladybugs. University of California.

Biological Control: Lady Beetles (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Cornell University.

Erler, E. (2019). How Can I Get Rid of Asian Ladybugs in My House? University of New Hampshire.

Thomas Matthews
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