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May 29, 2019

Not-so Lady(like) Bugs

By Lauren Hogarth

One of the most easily recognizable pests we deal with is the Asian beetle. Its orange body, adorned with black spots, is commonly mistook for the ladybug. Despite its name, the ladybug is in fact not a bug at all; it is actually a member of the same family as the Asian beetle. They look quite alike at first glance, but a closer look reveals some of their many differences. While similar in color, the lady bug is a richer, deeper red than the orange shell of the Asian beetle, with fewer black spots (most ladybugs have 7-9 spots).  The ladybug is featured in children’s nursery rhymes; it is also seen as a symbol of good luck by many (especially those with 7 spots!). Some consider ladybugs to be a symbol of the Virgin Mary in Christian culture.

Ladybugs, for the most part, are beneficial to the environment. They feed on crop-destroying aphids and scale insects. While Asian beetles are also a predator to pest insects, they have taken over native species since their first introduction into the United States. They have hefty appetites and tend to feed on non-pest insects as well, including Monarch butterfly eggs and larvae. These beetles are more aggressive and will even bite! Asian beetles have become such a problem in vineyards have actually begun to affect the taste of wine— as they are collected with the grapes and included in the winemaking process.

Asian Beetles In The Home

Like boxelder bugs and stink bugs, Asian beetles seek warmth during the colder months. They crawl into the home through cracks in poorly excluded siding, ridge vents, crawl space vents, or even the foundation to overwinter between the walls. If the home is seasonal, they will hibernate in the walls and can be quite the shock to unsuspecting visitors upon turning on the heat. When the temperature rises, the Asian beetles awaken from their hibernation and seek to be closer to the heat source. They will exploit any available openings to make it into the living space of the home.

From there, they crawl and fly around, congregating at windows; it’s not unusual to see thousands of Asian beetles congregated in an area.  If something disturbs them, they secrete a yellow, odorous substance that can stain walls and furniture. Their mouths are small but they have a reputation of being biters— though the bite is not very painful, some may have an allergic reaction which ranges from general eye problems such as pink eye to hay fever, asthma, and/or hives. Reactions can be triggered by handling the beetles and touching your eyes, so it is important to always wash your hands after touching!

Asian Beetles vs Dogs

In addition to being potentially harmful to humans, Asian beetles are a threat to dogs as well. If a dog ingests the beetles, their tough exoskeleton, made of a tough substance called “chitin” does not break down easily. It is similar to the hull of a popcorn kernel in consistency. Asian beetles are able to secure themselves to the roof of a dogs mouth, congregating at the palate. Due to their hard, thickened wing covers their rounded shape proves difficult for a dog’s tongue to remove. The yellow, odorous substance mentioned earlier is called hemolymph, and is secreted when they feel threatened. It tastes just as bad as it smells, which is why dogs will attempt to eat more Asian beetles to rid their mouths of the foul taste.

Hemolymph is corrosive and can cause chemical burns in both the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. If the chemical burns are not treated properly, an infection may develop and with time could become serious. While the threat to dogs is there, it is relatively unlikely. Most of the time upon even smelling the hemolymph, canines will steer clear.

Preventing Asian Beetles

Exclusion will help to prevent Asian beetles from entering the home in the fall and will prevent an infestation. Sealing where the foundation meets the siding, around windows, piping, eaves, along with repairing a popped ridge vent and caulking any visible cracks will help keep these fall invaders out. Ensuring all window and door screens fit tightly and are free of holes will also help to keep the beetles outdoors. If you find dead Asian beetles near your windows and doors, the carcasses can be easily vacuumed up. It is important to note that handling Asian beetles gently will prevent squashing them and releasing the hemolymph, which does have a potential to stain.

Proper exclusion and chemical treatments in the spring are ultimately the most effective means of prevention. We specialize in this type of clean-up, eradication, and exclusion. If you are experiencing an issue with Asian beetles, do not hesitate to give us a call today!


Sources:

Fitzsimmons, Paula. “Asian Lady Beetles: Could They Harm Your Dog?” PetMD, 25 Oct. 2017, www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/poisoning-toxicity/asian-lady-beetles-could-they-harm-your-dog.

Lupo, Lisa Jo. “How to Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Ladybugs.” The Spruce, The Spruce, 27 Mar. 2019, www.thespruce.com/good-and-bad-ladybugs-2656236.

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