When you spot a tiny and friendly-looking lady bug on your shoulder or arm, you immediately think ‘oh, how lovely’.
Seeing a ladybug is a sign of good fortune in many places worldwide.
However, in reality, this may not be a ladybug at all, but rather a tree-living and multicolored Asian lady beetle or the Harmonia axyridis.
And, they may not bring you the good luck you were expecting, but rather give you a bite!
Asian Lady Beetle Imposters Are Here to Bite?
These lady beetles that look similar to the ladybug may actually be harmful. They look a lot like the ladybug; however, these are slightly larger, more aggressive, and destructive.
On the other hand, the native North American ladybug or the ladybird beetles in Europe is a harmless and friendly bug.
They come from the Coccinella family and there’s not only one lady beetle in North America.
For example, the native North American lady beetle is 9 spotted whereas the native European one or the ladybird is 7 spotted.
It can be challenging to differentiate between the two; the native ladybugs are almost identical to the multicolored Asian ladybeetles to a layman.
Moreover, there are more than 5,000 distinct species with different temperaments, features, and appetites.
The native ladybugs aren’t harmful to humans and never bite. And, they are helpful to us by eating some harmful garden pests.
Their Asian distant relatives aren’t that welcomed for homeowners because they can be destructive. This Asian beetle was imported to the US and released in 1916 in an effort to manage some insect pests, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Since then, the beetle expanded to other regions throughout the US. Although it’s beneficial to some level, they’re more of a nuisance. They look for overwintering sites in abandoned homes and in buildings, often in big numbers.
They begin to leave there and can replicate in a large number.
They will even bite, according to a study done at Penn’s State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. They will leave a yellow defensive chemical which may spot fabrics and walls.
This liquid also smells odd and unpleasant. And, some individuals have even experienced allergic reactions when in contact with these excretions.
How to Spot the Difference Easier?
The multicolored Asian lady beetle is a bit bigger and has wider range of colors when compared to the native ladybug.
And, they also have another feature that the native ladybug doesn’t have, i.e. a very visible black M letter-shaped mark on their head.
If they’ve infested your home, make sure you don’t sweep them away aggressively in an effort to remove them. When agitated, they may be defensive and release the yellow liquid!
It’s better to seal openings in your ceilings or attics and take caution when dealing with them. Often times, they’re the most active in early spring.