You know what ladybugs look like and you’re probably somewhat familiar with the infamous Asian lady beetle. The beetles seem to disguise themselves as harmless ladybugs in order to infiltrate our gardens and homes. Asian lady beetles are like the dastardly spies of the insect world, especially in fall and spring.
What you may not know, however, is that the disguise isn’t perfect. It’s not always easy but distinguishing between Asian lady beetles and ladybugs is always possible. By figuring out which bug is which, you’ll be able to drive out the bad and leave the good. Here’s how to tell if the bug you’re looking at is a ladybug imposter, and what to do about it.
What is the Ladybug Look Alike?
Are ladybugs and Asian beetles the same? No! The ladybug looking bug you’re thinking about is probably the Asian lady beetle. And although ladybugs and Asian lady beetles look similar and belong to the same insect family, they do not behave similarly.
Ladybugs are considered highly beneficial, harmless insects. They don’t bite, they consume several harmful garden pests such as aphids, and they never congregate in large numbers. Most importantly, when it gets cold they seek shelter outdoors.
Asian lady beetles are considered a true pest. Unlike ladybugs, Asian lady beetles will gather in large groups, especially around warm, reflective surfaces like windows. Asian lady beetles “bite” by scraping the skin they land on, and leave a yellow, foul-smelling liquid on surfaces where they gather.
Worst of all, Asian lady beetles will attempt to enter your home when they look for overwintering shelters.
Asian Lady Beetle vs Ladybug: What’s the Difference?
If you don’t look closely, Asian lady beetles and ladybugs can look nearly identical. However, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between the two because of their opposing temperaments. Here’s how to tell the two bugs apart:
How to Tell the Difference Between Ladybugs and Asian Beetles
Ladybugs and Asian lady beetles definitely look similar. If you look closely, however, you’ll be able to spot a few key differences:
- Asian lady beetles are slightly larger than ladybugs
- Ladybugs are bright red with black spots. Asian lady beetles’ coloration can vary from red to orange.
- Asian lady beetles may or may not have black spots on their wing covers (cerci).
- Ladybugs have a round, oval shape while Asian lady beetles tend to be a little longer.
The easiest way to tell Asian lady beetles apart from ladybugs at a glance, though, is to look for the white “M.” Asian lady beetles have a distinctive, highly visible M-shaped black marking on their otherwise-white heads:
This marking varies in size, thickness, and shape, but it’s always there.
Ladybugs’ heads are mostly black with small white markings that are confined to the sides of the head—they may resemble cheeks! In general, ladybugs’ heads or “snouts” also appear shorter and less pointed than Asian lady beetles.
Even though Asian lady beetles look like ladybugs, they sure don’t act like them! First and foremost, ladybugs don’t sneak into your home the way Asian lady beetles do. While ladybugs overwinter in sheltered sites outdoors, Asian lady beetles often enter homes.
If you notice the bugs congregating in or around your home in fall or winter, they’re probably Asian lady beetles. So, if you think you need ladybug pest control, you actually need Asian lady beetle pest control services.
Another obvious way to identify an Asian Lady Beetle is by the smell. When they feel threatened, they may excrete a foul-smelling, yellow liquid from their leg joints. This excretion is called “reflex bleeding” and can also happen when they are crushed. Reflex bleeding isn’t dangerous, but it can stain walls and fabrics or trigger minor allergic reactions.
What You Can Do to Get Rid of and Prevent Asian Lady Beetles
Now that you know more about Asian lady beetles, you probably want to keep these “false ladybugs” out of your home. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
- Look for Asian lady beetles on sun-exposed or brightly colored surfaces. They are attracted to brightness and light colors.
- Find and seal cracks. Asian lady beetles usually enter homes by accident. They congregate on window frames or wall spaces and end up wandering in through cracks.
- Don’t crush them. Vacuum them up and dispose of the bag instead.
- Scrub down any surfaces Asian lady beetles congregated on with soapy water.
Keep Ladybug Imposters Out of Your Home!
Now that you’re an expert on the ladybug vs Asian beetle debacle, it’s time to keep the troublemakers out of your home or business. Need some help clearing out an Asian lady beetle infestation? Want to make sure you don’t get one in the first place? Just give Plunkett’s Pest Control a call right away. We’ll send those imposters packing, every time.