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Ladybugs are among the most visible and best-known beneficial predatory insect found in the home landscape and garden. Their oval shape, polka dots, and vibrant red, black, and orange colors distinguish them from most other insects. They feed on insect pests such as aphids, mites, small insects, and insect eggs that damage plants. Many crops such as vegetables, grains, legumes, and strawberries benefit from the presence of ladybugs. They are considered one of the gardeners’ best friends.
This is not so true regarding the multicolored Asian lady beetle that mimics our native ladybug. The multicolored Asian lady beetle was introduced into North Carolina in 1992. They are very similar in size, shape, and color to the ladybug. These imitators attack plant pests which reduce the food supply for our native ladybugs. When food sources run low, Asian lady beetles will attack plants and ripening fruits.
Asian lady beetles have an “M” shaped spot on their heads. When disturbed, they are aggressive and sometimes bite. If they don’t bite, they release yellow-tinted body fluid containing stinky and poisonous chemicals that can stain walls, carpets, floors, and irritate the skin. They try to overwinter indoors. Our native lady bugs have no “M” shape on their heads and are harmless. They live outdoors and overwinter garden and landscape debris, not in our homes.
Asian lady beetles have become a nuisance in North Carolina. They cluster around buildings and homes in large numbers during the fall in search of a protected site to overwinter. Many find their way into homes through cracks, windows, vents, and door thresholds. To keep multicolored lady beetles out of your home you should check the outside of your home for spaces and cracks that may allow insects easy entry. Fill those voids with expanding foam, elastomeric latex, silicone, or caulk. Make sure to check areas where cable TV wires, phone lines, pipes, outdoor faucets, and dryer vents enter the structure. Check and repair window and door screens. Check the roof vents, chimney, bathroom, and kitchen exhaust fans for cracks. If they do find their way into your home, the best method to get rid of them is with a vacuum. Vacuum them into a container, empty them into a bag and freeze them before discarding them outside.