PHOTO FUN/ShutterstockLadybugs are one of the few insects people actually like. But look twice before you let one crawl on your finger. Ladybugs might be good luck, but their lookalike cousin could be bad news.
North America does have native ladybugs, but the slightly bigger Asian lady beetle was imported to the United States in 1916 in hopes of keeping other insect pest populations down, according to the USDA. Over the years, more were introduced around the country, and the pest control worked well—too well. Their populations have exploded so much that they’ve become a nuisance in certain regions, such as Central Texas.
“The main danger is one you don’t really see,” University of Texas entomologist Dr. Alex Wild tells CBS Austin. “They’re out there in large numbers; they’re not from here; they’re eating a lot of our native insects in ways that would have unpredictable effects in terms of pest control.”
But these bugs can be just plain pesky too. Unlike harmless native ladybugs, Asian lady beetles bite. They aren’t poisonous, but you will feel a little pinch, according to the University of Kentucky agriculture college. Still, some people are allergic to the bugs, so wash your hands after you touch them.
Don’t let your pet near the Asian lady beetles though. While a nibble might not hurt humans, dozens of the bugs can get inside dogs’ mouths. The poor pups will become lethargic, get ulcers, and start foaming at the mouth. If any get at your pet, remove the bugs with your fingers.
This is the second pup I have seen like this today. If your pet is drooling or foaming at the mouth look for these lady bugs. They cause ulcers on the tongue and mouth and have a very painful bite.
The worst part? You won’t want to squash them, because Asian lady beetles aren’t so cute when they’re scared. Not only do they let out a yellow liquid that can stain, but you’ll smell a musky odor.
To get rid of the pests in your house without chemicals, suck them up with a HEPA filter vacuum or sweep them outside with a broom, suggests pest control service Orkin. Asian lady beetles escape the cold by crawling into homes, so sealing any cracks and making sure windows and doors close tightly will prevent more from getting in.