Lady bugs can also be called lady beetles and ladybird beetles. While they are nice to see outside the home, they can be problematic if they get inside or are around in large numbers.
Biology of Lady Bugs
Adult lady bugs are known for their bodies that are oval or hemispherical shaped and convex. Although the stereotypical lady bug is black and red, the colors on these insects can include pink, yellow, red, black, and/or orange and they frequently include spots. The coloration acts as a warning to other insects. Lady bugs are protected by a noxious fluid that leaves their joins if they are disturbed, combining with the discoloration to protect them from predators. Female lady bugs will usually lay their eggs in clusters on plants that are close to food sources such as colonies of mealybugs, scales, or aphids. The larvae are harmless to humans. The larvae will feed on the insect prey for a few weeks and then pupate while on a leaf. Once the initial food sources grow scarce, adults will typically move on. In the wild, lady bugs typically live between two and three years. Reproductive rates vary by lady bugs species. Some will have multiple generations each year while others just have a single generation in a year. It is common to spot lady bugs at each developmental stage during the summer. During the winter, adults of certain species will join together and spend the season together under debris, leaf litter, or rocks.
Why Lady Bugs Are Considered Pests
When lady bugs are outside and out of the way, they are actually considered to be beneficial insects. A single lady bug may eat up to 5,000 aphids within its lifetime. As such, most lady bugs are good to have around, provided they remain outside your home. There is one key exception to this rule, the multi-colored Asian lady beetle. This particular lady bug can aggravate asthma and also cause allergic reactions, depending on the person. Because of the potential presence of this particular type of lady bug, most people find it best to just try to deter all lady bugs from getting too close.
There are also some species of lady bugs that feed on plants, although many others feed on insects. Those that feed on plants can be a pest for hobby gardeners, farmers, and anyone else trying to grow a plant. Additionally, that previously-mentioned fluid that lady bugs excrete when threatened can lead to these insects being classified as pests. If a lady bug on your property releases this fluid, it can smell very bad and may also cause stains on anything it comes into contact with. That alone is a reason many people choose to try to prevent lady bugs. Regardless of a homeowner’s stance on lady bugs outside their home, most will decide these insects are pests if they choose to enter the home. There is also the potential for large numbers of lady bugs to get in the way and become a nuisance.
Methods for Controlling Lady Bugs
Since lady bugs are generally good for your garden and landscape and not typically harmful to people, most control methods for these insects are focused on keeping them outside. Very few control methods will target outdoor lady bugs, instead focusing on eliminating and preventing those that are inside. The best control method is to ensure that there is no method of lady bugs getting into your home. This means sealing up any cracks by utility pipes, siding, doors, windows, chimneys, and any other openings. This process should be completed using high-quality silicone-latex or silicone caulk. If there is damage to your windows or screens, go ahead and repair this as well so lady bugs and other insects cannot get inside.
If the lady bugs are already inside, then you will likely need to hire a pest control professional to help you evict them. They will have a range of methods at their disposal, from natural to chemical-based methods. As with other insects that can get in the way, there is a range of insecticides that can work on lady bugs. These include residual dusts, aerosols, and insecticides. These can be applied to the key areas, like attic vents, under lips of the fascia, siding, and by windows and doors. You can also place fly traps on the windows if you want.
DIY Tips to Get Rid of Lady Bugs
The most important DIY tip for getting rid of lady bugs is to seal up any gaps or cracks that could provide them with entry into your home. You will also want to consult with a professional in the case of lady bugs inside or large numbers causing damage outside your home. They should be able to provide you with additional suggestions. In the case of just a few lady bugs, you can grab a broom and dustpan or container to sweep up the insects and then bring them outside. This will let both you and the lady bugs continue living peacefully. A nice natural option is to plant some mums by your entranceways, including windows. Lady bugs do not like mums as a chemical component within them serves as a deterrent. If you do not care what happens to the lady bugs, you can vacuum them up with a HEPA filter vacuum. Just ensure you empty the bag right after you use it if you go this route.
You could also opt for an insect light trap to catch lady bugs in locations that are typically dark. One example would be to place these traps in the attic since lady bugs like the dark. Another choice is to use diatomaceous earth, which is known for its ability to kill a range of insects. It is non-toxic for pets and humans so it can be used inside or outside, just be sure to take care when applying it. Once you remove lady bugs from your home, you will also need to take steps to remove the scent of the insects. Otherwise, this scent can attract new lady bugs into your home. Try getting rid of it with citrus oil, citronella or another natural scent.
Go back to the Home Pest Control home page or email us for more info about Lady Bugs