Ladybugs are very cute insects. Unlike many other insects in the world, they do not make people cringe at the sight of them. A trait that ladybugs and insects do share is that they are pests and can be a nuisance to people. Even though people like ladybugs more than other insects they can still cause problems for people and their homes.
Here is a ladybug that most people are used to seeing, the classic red and black ladybug.
There are over 5,000 species of ladybugs and almost 400 species just in the U.S. With so many species people often mistake the ladybug’s identity. People are used to seeing ladybugs as small insects, one to ten millimeters, with red with black spots. Many ladybugs do look like this, but there are also species with different amount of spots and some that are different colors like black, yellow, white, orange, and gray. Although the red with black spotted ladybugs are the most commonly recognized. Ladybugs also have a few names. Most people know them as ladybugs, but they are also known as ladybird beetles and ladybird. Ladybugs are actually a type of beetle.
Here is one of the other species of ladybugs that is yellow.
Most often, people see these ladybugs in their yards or anywhere outside. An interesting fact about ladybugs is that they are actually beneficial to the outside world. The ladybug eats aphids which are bad pests for things like roses. By having ladybugs around outside it helps keep aphids and other bad insects away.
The problem that ladybugs cause for homeowners is that in the fall and winter they will be searching for a warm place to hibernate. Once the temperature hits 55 degrees, ladybugs needs extra warmth, which usually means warmth from a house, office building, restaurant, etc. Ladybugs even have specifics that they look for in a hibernation location like, light colored buildings and a place that will generate sunlight like a window. Like many other pests that hibernate in homes the ladybugs will make their new home within the wall voids and attics. Another thing when ladybugs hibernate is that they don’t just get into their new comfort spots and hang out solo for the winter, they hibernate in large groups; this being a problem of ladybugs hibernating within your home. While the ladybugs are inside your house they will not reproduce or lay eggs, which is a very good thing as they multiply very quickly. Also the ladybugs stay put for the most part, unless they find warm areas or sun soaked areas they might become a little active. The ladybugs can last a while being content though because they live off their own body fat during hibernation, which is actually a good thing for homeowners because then they won’t eat the house or anything in it.
Imagine this many ladybugs, plus more, all in your attic hibernating for winter. Remember ladybugs hibernate in groups.
Even though the ladybugs might not physically damage anything inside a home while hibernating they can cause other problems. For one, ladybugs release a pheromone. This pheromone is known as a yellow blood, or to bleed yellow when releasing it. Often it is released when ladybugs feel they are about to be attacked, it has a bad odor and will scare off anything trying to eat it. The bad part for homeowners is that if ladybugs bleed yellow at all in the house the scent of it can last for almost a year. Even though people might not smell it and it will keep away other insects it actually still attracts other ladybugs. Another problem that can occur is that the ladybugs can become active while hibernating. It isn’t too bad of a problem, but more of an annoyance. Although if the building the ladybugs happen to be hibernating in is a business or worse yet, a restaurant, having ladybugs flying around could be very bad for business. In either of these situations of ladybug infestation this would be the time to call a professional pest control company to come in and handle the situation. If you have ever had ladybug problems and did not need to call a professional pest control company you may still want to have one come out as there could be dead ladybugs left behind. Some times they won’t make it through hibernation because they need some humidity in order to survive; it all depends on the environment in which they decided to hibernate in.
Overall ladybugs are not a harmful pest. If you do find them in your home and are not too bothered by them try to just get them back outside, without killing them. When ladybugs are outside they are very helpful insect killers. Ladybugs are omnivores and since they eat many bad insects they act like a natural outdoor pest control. The bad insects that ladybugs eat are aphids, mealybugs, and mites just to name a few. Outside you can usually find ladybugs in places like gardens, forests, trees, flowers, weed patches and fields.
Here is a ladybug larva; it most definitely does not look like your typical ladybug yet.
Since there are so many different species of ladybugs it is hard to differentiate them from other insects. This makes it hard to know what are the real helpful insects compared to the unhelpful insects. Unfortunately unless you memorize every species it is a hard task to know what they all look like. Many times good insects may get killed for a mistaken identity. One of the most common mistaken identities of the ladybug is of itself during the larvae stage. Most other insects look similar to what they will look like as adults. The ladybug on the other hand looks completely different as a larva. The baby ladybug will only be in an egg for about a week before it hatches and turns into a larva. It will take anywhere from three to seven weeks to mature into an adult. During those weeks the larva is very active, getting its own food and moving around. Even at the larva stage they will bleed yellow to defend themselves. The larva is described as looking like an alligator, hence the mistaken identity.
Here is another ladybug larva, again easily mistaken for another pests than a ladybug.
Of course there are things that we can do to keep ladybugs outside where they should be. A few things homeowners can do to prevent ladybugs from getting in their house include: seal any cracks, crevices, gaps by windows, doors, pipes, etc. Also add screens to any vent openings. If you already have screens on things like windows make sure they are properly installed and are in good condition. As long as you can keep ladybugs from getting inside your home they should not be a pest to you, just a useful natural pest control for the outdoors.
Pictures courtesy of www.creativecommons.org