If it feels like your luck has been off recently, it may be because you’ve come across Asian Lady Beetles and not the lucky ladybugs of myths. This can be especially troublesome if you’ve noticed them swarming around your house, but there are plenty of home remedies to get rid of them.
Asian Lady Beetles aren’t dangerous or destructive, but they can swarm and become a nuisance. If you want to get rid of them, you’ll need to seal up any points of entry and utilize a multi-faceted approach.
The first step is making sure it’s actually false ladybugs you’re dealing with. After this, you can use any number of home remedies and commercial remedies to kick the insects out of your home.
Asian Lady Beetles vs. Ladybugs
Asian Lady Beetles go by several names, including:
- False or Fake Ladybug
- Halloween Ladybug
- Harlequin Ladybug
- Asian Beetle
- Japanese Lady Beetle
- Multicolored Ladybug
What you call them may depend on where you live or where you grew up, but all these names refer to Harmonia axyridis, a species of ladybug. While they have the same round shape and spotted appearance, Asian Lady Beetles are less vibrant (anywhere from tan to orange to pale red) and may have anywhere from 0 to 22 black spots.
To differentiate them from other Coccinellidae (the scientific name for ladybugs), look for a black “M” or “W” on the white spot behind their head.
The Asian Lady Beetles were first imported to the United States in 1916 when the USDA decided to use them as a biologic control agent. States like California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington were plagued with aphid issues, and it was thought that the Asian Beetles would help.
While they technically did, they also bred and migrated across the states. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the USDA recognized their mistake, uncovering a large swarm of the beetles in New Orleans.
Are Asian Lady Beetles Dangerous?
While they can be pests, Asian Lady Beetles aren’t particularly dangerous. Like most bugs, their mouthparts can bite, but you’re unlikely to notice. These beetles aren’t known to carry parasites or disease, and the biggest complaint comes from an allergic reaction when you come into contact with their defensive secretion (hemolymph).
An unfounded myth claims that these beetles are deadly to pets, but no cases support this claim. The hemolymph will undoubtedly agitate your pets’ mouth or stomach if they try to snack on the bugs, but they would have to consume an entire swarm to cause serious damage.
Most stop after the first beetle.
Asian Lady Beetles and Plant Damage
Unlike similar insects, like the Mexican Bean Beetle, Squash Beetle, or Potato Ladybird, Asian Lady Beetles aren’t usually crop killers. They would rather go after the piercing insects on your plants, but will resort to greenery if no other food is available.
A single Asian Beetle larva can eat 600 to 1,200 aphids. When they reach adulthood, this expands to 90 to 270 per day.
Unfortunately, they’re known to attack native ladybugs, who are even less likely to chow down on your garden. They also like to venture inside once the temperature drops, often in swarms, making them a nuisance in the cooler seasons.
Prevention Comes First
Asian Lady Beetles are unlikely to pack up and leave once they venture in, so you want to prevent more from showing up first. This method of pest control, called exclusion, is essential to prevent an Asian Beetle infestation.
Go around the perimeter of your home and make note of any points of entry. These usually include cracks and holes in or around:
- Doors and window frames
- Home foundation
- Siding or outer walls
- Eaves and gutter attachment points
- Vent and chimney attachment points
Replace or repair any damaged window screens, then check your basement and add tight-knit mesh over vents and anywhere utility pipes enter your home.
If you’re up to some landscaping, make sure your mulch or protective groundcovers are at least 5 inches from your house. Trim back or relocate plants touching the home, and make sure your gutters and ground are clear of debris.
Methods to Avoid
The hemolymph these beetles emit has a strong scent that can attract others to the area. Because this can also stain anything they’re on, you want to avoid any methods that may leave the odor around your home.
- Bug zappers
- Squashing or swatting
- Sweeping or batting them out of your home
If you end up spooking them, make sure you clean the area thoroughly so others don’t take up their spot. If you’re not a fan of chemicals use dish soap first then spray the surface with a DIY citrus oil or lemon juice repellent.
Home Remedies for Asian Beetles
In most cases, you can take care of Asian Lady Bugs using home remedies. The most effective methods include:
- Vacuuming them up
- Chasing them out with smells they hate
- DIY traps
- Diatomaceous earth (DE)
You usually need to use a mix of these methods to get all of the insects from your home.
If you have a pesky swarm or want something you don’t need to put much thought into setting up, grab your vacuum and get going. The beetles are tiny enough that they won’t be able to escape, and you can empty the canister outside of your home.
This method is much easier if you use a vacuum bag. The Asian Lady Beetles will definitely get spooked by their world becoming a vortex, so the vacuum will quickly fill with their foul-smelling defense secretions. You can toss a bag out, but you will need to clean the canister thoroughly before using the vacuum cleaner again.
2. Offensive Smells
If the weather outside is nice, you can run them out by opening a window and filling your home with smells they hate. It should be at least 65°F outside, and you want a clear forecast to give them plenty of time to vacate.
Some repelling scents include:
- Bay leaves
This is a great time to clean your home completely, and using a citrus-scented cleaning product can help drive them out.
3. DIY Asian Beetle Traps
If you’re less worried about letting them live, you can try trapping the beetles. These methods will likely do way with the pests, but you won’t need to worry about them returning in the future.
Because they’re drawn to light and warmth, you can utilize lights to draw them into a certain area. Put a lamp in a room that’s otherwise blacked out, then set up one of these traps underneath the beam:
- A water bottle cut in half; top half flipped so it funnels into the bottom
- Commercial glue traps (or strong double-sided tape)
- Bowls of soapy water
The light will draw in the bugs, and they’ll fall victim to the trap before they realize what’s happening. These methods also make it easy to get rid of their smelly secretions at the same time.
4. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a common pest-control tool, but it requires contact to work. The sediment works by cutting open insects and dehydrating them, so there’s no chance of chemical resistance.
While DE is usually safe to use, it can be difficult to get the location right and irritating if inhaled. Don’t use it in areas where your children or animals frequent. Instead, consider outside application to take care of the False Ladybugs as they try to cross inside.
Dealing With Asian Beetles Outside
Asian Lady Beetles aren’t usually an issue as long as they stay outside, but you may want to handle a swarm or keep them off your property completely. Some outdoor methods to try include:
- Commercial traps and pesticides: utilize specific pheromones or chemicals (bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, permethrin) to attract and/or kill the pests
- Unfavorable plants: i.e. chrysanthemums or bay plants; create a scent barrier to deter the beetles
- Natural predators: (as long as they aren’t invasive); birds, frogs, toads, larger beetle species, certain wasps, and spined soldier bugs can keep the population in check
You can even build a ladybug house to provide the Asian Beetles with a more appropriate space to take shelter.
Getting rid of Asian Beetles at home isn’t difficult, but you must seal up any points of entry to ensure they don’t return. They may not be dangerous to your family or pets, but their secretions leave tricky stains and odors that no one wants in their home.
While they prefer to spend their time outside, it’s not unusual for the beetles to venture. As long as you respond quickly with the appropriate measures, you can return to a pest-free home.
Let us know if your particular Asian Beetles are proving more resilient or if you need help dealing with the situation!