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Japanese Beetle Vs. Ladybug: Why Does It Matter To Me?

japanese beetle vs ladybug

Ladybugs are often seen as a good luck charm. With their black-spotted backs and bold red color, ladybugs can be hard to miss, even despite their small size. Ladybugs look very similar to another insect often called Japanese or Asian beetles, which are often orange. There is one trait that the Asian beetle is notorious for: under some conditions, they can bite humans. For that reason, many people are left to wonder: when it comes to a Japanese beetle and a red ladybug, is there one creature I need to avoid?

Orange Ladybug vs. Red Ladybug: How Are They Different?

Asian lady beetles and ladybugs may look similar, but if you know what to look for, you can distinguish between their physical appearance. These two insects also display different behavior, have distinct life cycles and live in different habitats. Most importantly to homeowners, one type can more likely to make its way inside your home and cause trouble.

Appearance Matters

The more common of the two types of insects is the ladybug. Ladybugs are native to the United States and have oval, dome-shaped bodies, with six short legs which are hidden under their shells. When it comes to color, bright red tends to be the most prevalent in this country; some, but not all, ladybugs have multiple black spots on their backs.

The Asian beetle, Harmonia axyridis, was introduced in the 1960s by the Department of Agriculture to control agricultural pests. Though the Japanese beetle has many similarities to the ladybug, this insect’s color is often different, ranging from a mustard yellow to black, with orange being the most common. Another distinguishing characteristic is that the Asian Beetle typically has more spots than its native counterpart19, to be exact. That said, some Asian beetles don’t have any spots at all. Most of these invasive insects have small, black markings on the whitish area on the head which resemble an “M” or a “W.” Asian beetles are larger than American ladybugs, often measuring one-third of an inch in length.

Diet and Behavior

Both ladybugs and Asian beetles are omnivores. You might be shocked to learn that despite its size, a ladybug can eat up to 5,000 insects in its lifetime.

Most people like ladybugs because of their association with childhood memories and their overall harmless nature. Gardeners and farmers love both ladybugs and Asian beetles for what they like eating. Both types of insects seek out aphids, plant-eating insects and other soft-bodied insects which can cause damage to crops.

Different Life Cycles

The life cycle of both ladybugs and lady beetles is categorized into four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. But while complete transformation for a ladybug takes between one to two months, it takes just three to four weeks for the Asian beetle to mature to adulthood. Furthermore, the Asian beetle is dependent on particular rain, natural food sources and the right temperature to mature.

Asian beetles lay their eggs in either clusters or rows on the underside of trees, leaves or crops. Ladybugs, however, choose to lay their eggs on plants that offer a healthy dose of its prey. Beetles also lay fewer eggs that hatch in a shorter period of time when compared to ladybugs. This fact helps explain why numbers of Asian beetles have grown, especially because these insects have few natural enemies.

orange ladybug vs red ladybug

Preferred Habitat

Ladybugs can flourish in many different habitats, including grasslands, forests, cities, suburbs and along rivers. Asian lady beetles, however, prefer tree-dwelling habitats and inhabit both ornamental and agricultural crops.

Both the ladybug and lady beetle are most active during the warmer months of the year and look for shelter when the temperatures begin to drop. They can find shelter under rocks, inside logs and in the walls of your homes.

Both species tend to form clusters—up to 1,000 bugs at times—before finding warmth. The ladybug and Asian beetle hibernate throughout the winter and become active again in the spring.

Japanese Beetle Ladybug Infestation

In the months leading up to fall, Asian beetles begin to leave summer feeding sites in search of safe spaces to spend the winter. This phenomenon can lead to home infestations as these creatures seek protection inside and around buildings. Beetle movement tends to occur after periods of chilly weather when the sun is out. These flights tend to take place in the afternoon. Industrial areas and wooded residential neighborhoods are most at risk for an infestation.

Asian beetles are often drawn to sunny exterior walls, so they tend to avoid shady spots. The insects are attracted to color contrasts, so you may also find them where light and dark colors converge, such as near where light window trim meets a darker house color. Homes near dense vegetation, such as forests or fields, tend to see more Asian beetle home infestations.

When temperatures begin to climb in the late winter and early spring, Asian beetles begin to become active. Awakening beetles sometimes make their way indoors as they make their way out from your attic, walls and baseboards. You may also notice the beetles near windows and light fixtures since the insects are drawn to light.

Orange Ladybug Bite

Asian beetles can bite humans with enough force to break the skin, although pain tends to be minimal. Dogs can suffer more from a red or orange lady beetle bite. Although uncommon, Asian beetles can become lodged inside a dog’s mouth, which can lead to ulcers and discomfort. Since pet owners don’t regularly look inside a dog’s mouth, one sign that Asian beetles might be inside is if your pet stops eating or if you notice foaming at the mouth or drooling. Pet owners can usually remove these beetles at home without a trip to the vet’s office.

In addition to biting humans and our pets, Asian beetles release an unpleasant odor from their legs when threatened. The yellow fluid that often accompanies this odor can also stain walls and fabric.  

Prevention is Key

The best way to avoid an Asian beetle infestation is to keep them out from the start. Close off any gaps and cracks around the exterior of your home, and be sure to seal doors, windows and any openings around pipes properly.

For large infestations, homeowners may find that their own DIY efforts are largely ineffective to remove these pesky pests. Indoors, the best way to remove beetles is by using your vacuum. Treatments can be applied indoors and around your home’s exterior to deter these pests. Light traps can also be a way to remove these beetles from your home in case of an infestation.

When It Comes To Pests, Rely On the Experts at ABC

Whether it’s beetles, roaches, termites, fleas or other insects, the experts at ABC Home & Commercial Services can identify the source of your problem and come up with a solution to rid your home of pests. Trust ABC to take care of your pest problems so you can get back to enjoying your home.

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